Aug 14 -
Venezuela's 'brave' man
in Iraq on OPEC tour
Venezuela's President Hugo
Chavez arrived in Iraq on Thursday for the first face-to-face meeting of
a head of state with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein since the 1991 Gulf
His visit comes in defiance
the United States, a major importer of Venezuelan oil, which is still
trying to keep Saddam isolated a decade after his forces invaded Kuwait,
sparking the 1990-91 Gulf crisis.
Chavez crossed into Iraq
from Iran by car at the Monthuriyah border post, where he was received
by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.
Stringent United Nations
sanctions, imposed since Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, ban
international flights to and from Iraq.
After a red-carpet
welcoming ceremony, the president was flown to Baghdad, 180 km (115
miles) to the southwest, by an Iraqi military helicopter for a meeting
The exact time and location
of the meeting were not known but Chavez was expected to hold a news
conference on Baghdad at 1400 GMT.
Chavez's visit was part of
a tour of all 10 fellow OPEC states to promote the cartel's first summit
in 25 years on September 27-29 in Caracas. He is also discussing OPEC
production levels amid bullish world oil prices.
Washington said earlier
this week it was "deeply concerned" that the Venezuelan leader
would become the first elected head of state to meet the Iraqi president
since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
In Tehran earlier on
Thursday, Chavez defended his plan to visit Iraq. "We are an
independent and free nation and no one can tell us what to do. this is a
great disrespect to a great nation," he told a news conference.
The Venezuelan president,
accompanied by his Energy Minister and OPEC chief Ali Rodriguez, has
already been this week to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab
Emirates and Iran.
Arafat in Moscow to seek
Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat arrived in Moscow on Thursday as part of a flurry of foreign
trips aimed at drumming up support for his plan to declare an
independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
An old friend of Moscow
from Soviet days, Arafat can expect a warm welcome and a sympathetic
hearing from President Vladimir Putin, who wants to revive Russian
influence in the Middle East.
But Russian diplomats have
also indicated they will try to discourage Arafat from making any
unilateral moves which could inflame tensions between Israelis and
Arafat will meet Putin and
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Friday before leaving for
Finland and Norway.
Israel strongly opposes
Arafat's plan to declare an independent state on September 13, the
deadline for a peace treaty between the two sides. The Jewish state
regards the whole of Jerusalem as its "eternal" capital.
"Russia firmly intends
to make its contribution to the search for compromises and mutually
acceptable decisions (in an Israeli-Palestinian settlement),"
Putin's special envoy to the Middle East, Vasily Sredin, told Interfax
Sredin sounded a cautious
note on Arafat's plan to declare independence irrespective of whether
there is a peace deal.
"Russia supports and
will support the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to create
their own state," he said.
"But Russia has
consistently said that all the possibilities for the peace process
should be explored to the very end...The Palestinians' state should grow
out of negotiations.
"Only then can the
stability and authority (of the new state) be guaranteed, and thereby
the stability and security of all countries in the Middle East,"
Saudis on track to pump
extra 500,000 bpd oil
Saudi Arabia is on track to
pump an extra half a million barrels of oil per a day (bpd) into the
world market by the end of this month, and is prepared to provide more
supplies if necessary to lower crude prices, a US oil source told
Reuters on Wednesday.
Saudi supplies have taken
longer than expected to arrive because Saudi Arabia has struggled to
find buyers for the extra oil, as customers were waiting for crude
prices to fall further, said the US oil source, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity.
The kingdom now has the
commitments it needs to put the additional 500,000 bpd into the market
and new supplies should be arriving in the US market at the end of
August and early September, according to the source. "We think the
Saudis have basically found people to buy it (the oil)," the source
said. "We think the Saudis are doing what they said they were going
to." If oil prices do not decline as a result of the new supplies,
the Saudis are prepared to pump even more oil, according to the source.
Brent oil price rises to
The price of Brent quality
North Sea oil was being quoted at 30 dollars a barrel on Wednesday in
response to an announcement on Tuesday that oil stocks in the United
States had fallen.
The price of Brent oil for
September delivery was 30 dollars, from 29.80 dollars when the market
opened and 30.15 dollars during trading, and 28.90 dollars at the close
The price of 30.15 dollars
was the highest since July 14.
Syria, Iraq to boost
annual trade to $1 b
Syria and Iraq are planning
to double their annual trade exchange to $1 billion, Iraqi Trade
Minister Mohammed Mahdi Saleh said on Tuesday after the first trade
meetings between the two countries in 20 years.
"We are looking
forward to increasing our trade exchange to over $1 billion annually and
of course that would be in accordance with the UN oil-for-food programme,"
Saleh told reporters after signing minutes of meetings of the joint
Syrian-Iraqi commission of economy and trade.
"We would even further
increase our trade exchange with Syria and other Arab countries,
hopefully, once the sanctions are lifted.
"Iraq's revenues from
oil exports could reach about $30 billion annually," he said.
Sudan starts exporting
Sudan has begun exporting
butane gas with an initial shipment of 3,600 tonnes leaving Port Sudan
to international markets last Friday, a senior energy official said in
remarks published Tuesday.
Energy and Mining Secretary
General Hassan Mohamed Ali Al-Toam said a recently inaugurated
Chinese-built refinery is producing 550 tonnes of butane gas a day while
the country consumes 130 tonnes a day.
He was quoted in Khartoum
newspapers as saying the surplus gas is being exported by local oil
companies, adding that his ministry is planning to build a gas-fuelled
power house that yields 200 megawatts of electricity.
Saudi bourse edge up
The Saudi stock market,
which has been hovering around highs not seen since September 1992,
edged up again in the week ending Thursday on the back of increased oil
prices, investment specialist Bakheet Financial Advisors said.
The NCFEI all-shares index
closed at 2,197.45 points, up 1.3 per cent from 2,168.35 points on
August 3 and eight per cent up on the year, said the Riyadh-based firm.
Jordan urges use of
'peaceful' nuclear energy
Jordan stressed the
necessity to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes such as fighting
desertification and digging for new water resources.
Minister of Energy and
Mineral Resources Wa'el Sabri, who returned to Amman Tuesday after
heading Jordan's delegation to the 12th meeting of Arab Atomic Energy
Association concluded in Tunisia Monday, delivered a speech in which he
called for using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes which include so
many things such agriculture research, scientific experiment,
development water resources management and fighting desertification and
Egypt shares plummet
Cairo shares took another
dive on Tuesday as most stock prices hit new year-lows, with no hint of
any positive news in the short term, brokers said.
Selling in stocks drove the
benchmark Hermes index close to its lowest level in four years,
plummeting 270.88 points, or 3.53 per cent, to 7,401.39.
The broader CIBC index
ended off 0.8 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 77.18. Prime's Pami index
fell 279.7 points, or 3.57 per cent, to 7,561.5.
Oman's Oil Minister
Mohammad bin Hamad Al-Romhi urged OPEC member states on Tuesday to
respect their output quotas and not to raise oil production
Romhi, whose country is not
a member of OPEC but coordinates closely with the oil cartel, called on
members "to respect the production quotas agreed in June" at a
conference in Vienna, the official news agency ONA reported.
Qatar Fertilisers Company (Qafco)
said on Tuesday it had appointed foreign financial and legal advisers
for a multi-million dollar expansion of its facilities in Mesaieed, 48
km south of the capital Doha.
French bank Societe
Generale was selected as financial adviser while UK law firm Norton Rose
was chosen as legal adviser for the fourth phase expansion of Qafco-4, a
Qafco official told Reuters.
BAE in talks with Saudi
British defence group BAE
Systems is holding talks with Saudi Arabia on setting up a joint venture
to transform their long-standing relationship, the Sunday Times
The British group, formerly
known as British Aerospace, is believed to be planning to create a
private sector company with the Saudi authorities to be owned 51 per
cent by a Saudi group and 49 per cent by BAE, the newspaper said.
Co. (Batelco) profits in the first six months of 2000 soared 25 per cent
to 27.7 million dinars (72.6 million dollars) from the same period last
Qatar aims to raise oil
Qatar aims to increase its
crude oil production capacity to one million barrels per day (bpd) from
the current level of around 756,000 bpd, the Middle East Economic Survey
(MEES) reported Monday.
The Cyprus-based specialist
newsletter said the Qatar General Petroleum Corp. has opened talks with
foreign companies operating in the OPEC member state on expanding the
capacity of upstream operations, both onshore and offshore.
The biggest contributor to
the 30 per cent boost in capacity is likely to come from the onshore Al-Shahin
field operated by Maersk Oil of Denmark, MEES said.
Arab Banking Corporation (ABC)'s
first-half net profit in 2000 grew 12 per cent compared to the same
period last year. The Bahrain-based investment group, recorded net
profits of 67 million dollars in the first half of 2000, up from 60
million dollars last year.
Iraq in market for
Sanctions-hit Iraq is
holding negotiations with a foreign company for the purchase of new
civilian passenger aircraft, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
underway with a company to buy modern planes," Maamun Mohieddin
Nasseri, director general of Iraq's civil aviation department, told the
Syria urged to speed up
Investors have welcomed
Syria's plans to reform its state-dominated economy, but more needs to
be done to help the ailing private sector and key industries such as
textiles and agro-foods, an EU official said on Tuesday.
David Wightman, director of
the EU-funded Syrian-European Business Centre (SEBC), told Reuters in an
interview that protectionism, trade regulations and financial
restrictions had hampered business development in Syria in the past.
But, he said investors were
optimistic about newly elected President Bashar Al-Assad's pledge last
month to modernise the economy and that some progress had already been
optimistic, but they are really looking forward to seeing an
acceleration of change in Syria," he said.
He cautioned, though, that
reforms should not be carried out in a way that upset the country's
social structure, for instance by increasing income gaps.
US doubts Egyptian
projections of the country's economy sustaining a 6 per cent growth
level are overly optimistic, according to a report by the US embassy in
Cairo received by AFP Monday.
The Economic Trends Report,
a midyear report, argued that despite its commitment to economic reform
"the Government of Egypt remains optimistic in its projection of
GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, anticipating around 6 per cent for
fiscal year 1999-2000". GDP growth rate reached 6 per cent during
1998-99 and 5.7 per cent the previous year.
Syria, Lebanon discuss
agriculture and tourism ties
Syria and Lebanon moved
closer towards creating a common market Monday when President Bashar Al-Assad
ratified an agreement liberalising their trade in agricultural goods,
officials here said. At present, Syria forbids the import of Lebanese
agricultural produce, while the Lebanese complain that Syrian produce is
The agreement, signed last
October, provides for duty to be imposed on 17 types of produce, which
will "be gradually lowered" over five years.
Air Algerie resumed
flights to Libya
Algerian national carrier
Air Algerie resumed flights to Tripoli on Sunday over a year after the
United Nations lifted an eight-year air embargo on Libya.
"The first flight by
Air Algerie arrived at Tripoli International Airport," Libyan
state-run radio, monitored in Tunis, reported.