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Iran, Iraq proposels may mean new OPEC rift

The fragile unity of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could face a severe test at its ministerial meeting in Geneva this week, analysts said on Sunday.

Original expectations were that the meeting, which starts Wednesday, would be noncontroversial. It was considered likely to reconfirm OPEC's self-imposed production ceiling of 17.5 million barrels a day and benchmark price of $29 a barrel.

But Iran and Iraq, fighting a 38-month-old war, have both said they intend to seek an increase in their production quotas.

Iraqi Oil Minister Qassem Ahmed Taqi has said his country wants to boost its quota to 1.8 million barrels daily from 1.2 million. Iranian deputy Oil Minister Abbas Hornadoost said crease to 3.2 million barrels from 2.4 million unless Saudi Arabia cuts its output. Iran also wants to increase the price of oil by $5 a barrel.

Venezuela and Indonesia are among other countries which have indicated they will press for higher quotas.

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