Unity at OPEC session is iffy

Uncertainty over the ability of the members of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries to bury their differences regarding oil prices and the level of oil production has cast a shadow over plans to hold an extraordinary OPEC meeting Aug. 19 in Geneva, reports James Dorsey, special correspondent to the Monitor.

In an attempt to salvage the situation, Kuwait Oil Minister Khalifa alSabah flew unexpectedly to the resort of Taif Monday for talks with Saudi leaders. Kuwait in recent days has been an important mediator between Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, particularly the North African oil producers.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said that if other OPEC members agree to reduce their prices, it is prepared to cuts its own oil production of 10 million barrels a day, which now floods the international market with low- priced oil.

Kuwait claims to have received Saudi assurances that it is willing to honor its promise, and oil sources there say Sheikh Khalifa flew to Saudi Arabia "to confirm the deal."

Kuwait adds that it has asurances of a compromise from the North African oil producers suffering dwindling oil ex ports under the Saudi attempts to enforce its will on OPEC.

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