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Saudi energy minister meets US Iran envoy ahead of OPEC

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid Al-Falih speaks on Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Astana, Kazakhstan on June 11, 2017 [Aliia Raimbekova / Anadolu Agency]
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid Al-Falih speaks on Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Astana, Kazakhstan on 11 June, 2017 [Aliia Raimbekova/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met with US special representative for Iran Brian Hook in Vienna on Wednesday, sources familiar with the meeting said, reports Reuters.

Hook, a senior policy adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spoke with Falih a day before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries gathers in Vienna to debate oil production cuts.

A Saudi Energy Ministry spokesman said of the talks between Falih and Hook: “We categorically deny such a meeting took place.” The sources maintained that the two men had held talks.

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Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Hook had adopted “an unprofessional, naïve and interventionist” approach in meeting Falih, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s news website, SHANA, reported.

SHANA quoted Zanganeh as saying:

OPEC is an independent organisation and is not part of the US Department of Energy to take orders from Washington

US President Donald Trump has urged Saudi Arabia to refrain from output cuts in order to keep oil prices low. He said higher oil supplies were a payback from Riyadh for U.S. support for Saudi Arabia against arch-rival Iran.

OPINION: Why Trump’s Iran sanctions will fail

The United States reimposed sanctions on Tehran last month. The measure has severely reduced Iranian oil flows and Washington has said it wants ultimately to drive Iranian shipments down to zero.

Iran Deal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Iran Deal – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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