Middle East violence may derail Opec summit plans

Tripoli, July 26 | Updated: Jul 27 2006, 05:30am hrs
Violence in the Middle East means that a planned summit of Opecs leaders may have to wait for the right time, Opec President Edmund Daukoru said on Wednesday. Daukoru, speaking to Reuters in Libya before heading to Iran on a tour of Opec countries, added the organisation would definitely hold the important gathering, which would be the first such meeting of heads of state and government since 2000.

He added: But of course it is a difficult time. So much violence in the Middle East Israel and Lebanon and Iraq is still in violence. So we have to review the global situation and (choose) the right time. We need to take a wait and see attitude, so we have to review the global situation regarding the summit.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of more than a third of the worlds oil, has been talking about holding a summit since last year. The Caracas gathering was the first such meeting since 1975. Aides to Daukoru have said that both Libya and Saudi Arabia want to host the meeting of Opec heads of state and government. Israels war against Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas has killed at least 418 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians. At least 42 Israelis have also died. Daukorus visit to Tripoli was his latest stop on a tour of some OPEC member states, which aims to resolve a long-running dispute over the post of Opec secretary-general as well as help plan the summit. Daukoru said he had discussed Opecs internal matters with Shokri Ghanem, head of Libyas state energy group National Oil Corporation. I have had very constructive discussions with Shokri Ghanem, comprehensive discussions on outstanding in-house matters. he said, adding: I dont want to be specific.

Oil has slid to about $74 from records above $78 a barrel struck earlier this month on fears the fighting between Israel and Hizbollah could spread to other countries in the oil-producing region, but remains up about 22% this year. Opec said this month that oil markets are well supplied and that it has no influence over geopolitical tensions that are driving oil prices.