Nov 13 -
Saudi Arabia to attend OIC moot
Saudi Arabia is to attend next week's Islamic
summit after Qatar bowed to its demand to break links with Israel over
the "deteriorating situation" in the Palestinian
territories, organizers of the summit said.
"The Saudi deputy foreign minister, Nizar
Obeid Madani, will represent his country at the preparatory
ministerial conference of the Islamic summit in Doha, Qatar having
agreed to close the Israeli trade bureau in Doha," an official of
the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said.
Qatar said on Thursday it was closing an Israeli
trade office in its capital Doha, after coming under pressure to cut
its low-level ties with the Jewish state before the Islamic summit.
Qatari officials said the decision was linked to
the killings of Palestinians by Israeli troops in six weeks of
violence in the West Bank and Gaza strip.
The United States on Thursday lamented Qatar's
decision to close Israel's trade office there, a move that one senior
official said was a setback in efforts to quell continuing violence in
the Middle East.
"We would like people to hold fast with their
relationships while we try to calm the violence and get back to the
peace process," a senior State Department official told AFP as
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived here for talks with President
"We don't think this is the occasion to be
severing the ties which are needed to re-establish a sense of
direction for the region," the official said.
A Qatari spokesman said the move would allow the
success of OIC summit by reinforcing Arab solidarity against Israeli
repression of the Palestinians.
Washington has been urging Arab states with ties to
Israel not to cut them, arguing that dialogue of any kind with the
Jewish state is helpful in finding a way to end the clashes.
OPEC may discuss price mechanism
OPEC is likely to discuss the possibility of
suspending the upper $28 a barrel limit on its price band mechanism
for six months to a year when it meets on November 12 in Vienna, oil
industry sources said on Thursday.
It is also likely to discuss potential output
cutbacks early next year, they said.
"The market is full of crude oil and still we
have high oil prices," said one industry source. "There are
flaws with this price band system".
OPEC last week raised production by 500,000 barrels
per day under its price band mechanism which commits the cartel to
raise or cut output by that amount if a basket price of its crude
strays from a $22 to $28 price band for 20 consecutive working days.
The industry sources stressed that oil market
fundamentals do not warrant a further production increase and that
prices were still being politically driven by the US presidential
elections and violence in the Middle East as well as by logistical
problems with US heating oil.
They said prices could ease slightly once the US
elections results are decided and Middle East tension eases.
They said an anticipated build up of oil stockpiles
will see prices declining more dramatically early next year.
"Given current production there will be an
unusually high stock build in the fourth quarter which will put
pressure on prices early next year, especially the second
quarter," said another industry source.
He reckoned the average stock build for this year
would run at 1.3 to 1.4 million bpd.
Algeria said on Wednesday it would call for an OPEC
meeting in January to discuss the market situation and possibly decide
a cut in oil production to avoid a price drop in the second quarter of
But Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil said that
OPEC should add a further 500,000 bpd by the end of November if the
price band mechanism dictates it.
Bahrain projects $833m deficit
Bahrain on Sunday projected a combined budget
deficit of 314 million dinars ($833 million) for 2001 and 2002, the
Gulf News Agency reported.
The 2001/2002 budget forecast revenues of 1.344
billion dinars — 669 million for 2001 and 675 million dinars for
It projected a total expenditure of 1.658 billion
dinars for the two-year budget — 823 million dinars for 2001 and 835
million dinars for 2002.
The 314 million dinar budget deficit for 2001/2002
is slightly lower than the 320 million dinar deficit Bahrain had
projected for its 1999/2000 two-year budget.
The agency said Bahrain's cabinet, at an ordinary
meeting on Sunday, ratified the budget forecast which also allocated
160 million dinars for development projects for each 2001 and 2002.
Bahrain has been issueing government treasury bills
and bonds to finance its budget deficit and development projects in
the past few years, but it was unclear if it will continue the
practice in the next two years.
Iraq becomes Morocco's top crude oil supplier
Iraq exported to Morocco 2.31 million tonnes of oil
between January and October, up 24.5 per cent on a year earlier and
catapulting Iraq to first place in the list of the country's oil
suppliers, a senior official said on Tuesday.
"Iraq is now the leading supplier of our crude
oil needs," an official of the country's sole oil port in
Mohamedia told Reuters.
In the first 10 months of last year, Morocco
imported 1.85 million tonnes of Iraqi crude oil.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are respectively second and
third crude suppliers of this north African country, the official
Morocco, which has no oil of its own, imported in
the January-October period a total of 6.03 million tonnes of crude, up
from 6.01 million tonnes a year earlier, the official said.
Morocco's Energy and Trade Minister Mustapha
Mansouri landed in Baghdad on Tuesday at the head of a business
delegation, after taking the first direct flight between the two
countries since the 1991 Gulf War.
Arafat, Clinton to meet as clashes continue
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat will hold talks
with US President Bill Clinton in the latest American effort to end
six weeks of clashes that has hobbled the Middle East peace process.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is to see
Clinton on Sunday, said that only the resumption of talks between the
two sides could lead to the independent state Arafat wants to declare
by the end of the year.
Providing a gloomy backdrop for Arafat's arrival in
Washington, six more Palestinian martyrs on Wednesday brought to at
least 170 Palestinians the death toll from the Intifada.
"Negotiation can lead to the establishment of
a Palestinian state with Israel's agreement that will be a stabilizing
force in the area and serve the interests of the world," Barak
told Israel's Channel One television late on Wednesday.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Hassan Asfour told
Reuters Barak could not dictate the terms of the declaration.
Egypt to invest $10b
Egypt's oil ministry has drawn up a plan to invest
$10 billion in petrochemical projects over the next 20 years, the
official Middle East News Agency (MENA) said.
MENA quoted Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy as saying the
projects would produce 15 million tonnes a year of petrochemicals
worth about $7 billion. This would cover local needs now met by
imports and would allow exports worth $3 billion a year.
Fahmy said the plan, which would create 100,000
jobs, had been prepared by staff of the state Egyptian General
Petroleum Corporation and British experts over the past eight months.
He said the first petrochemical project was slated
to be built in the Mediterranean coastal town of Damietta using
natural gas from deepwater offshore fields as feedstock.
Syria hosts investor conference
Some 400 potential investors, including the
International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank,
gather for a conference in Damascus Thursday aimed at promoting the
"The international conference for investment
in Syria," is the first forum of its kind to be organised in
Damascus since the start of the policy of economic openness some ten
Syria hopes the conference will promote a
"useful dialogue" among financial circles invited to
contribute to the modernisation of its economy, run since 1963 on the
socialist principles of the ruling Baath party, according to the
party's official paper.
Saudi hospital to sue tobacco firms for $5b
A Saudi hospital said on Monday it would sue
international tobacco companies and their local agents for $5 billion
to compensate for the cost of treating lung diseases including cancer,
the Saudi Press Agency said.
It quoted Anwar Abdul-Majid Jabarti, executive
general manager at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre
in Riyadh, as saying the hospital had a legal right to sue the
unidentified tobacco firms and their local agents.
He said the hospital had appointed a lawyer to
handle the case and urged local and Arab hospitals to follow suit.
Iraq, Jordan sign an agreement
Iraq and Jordan signed an agreement on Friday under
which Baghdad will supply Amman with five million tonnes of crude oil
and by-products this year.
"Iraq will supply Jordan with four million
tonnes of crude oil and one million tonnes of by-product and this
represents Jordan's needs for crude and by-products," Jordanian
Prime Minister Ali Abu Al-Ragheb told reporters.
"We have agreed on $20 as a ceiling for the
price of a barrel with a discount of 40 per cent for every increase
over $20," he said, adding: "There is an additional discount
of $3 a barrel regardless of the price of oil...this is a special
Iran plans to double oil output
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh
announced Saturday that Iran will "double its production capacity
between now and the year 2000" to hold its own with the OPEC
"Iran has 15 per cent of the total crude
output of OPEC. To sustain that per centage, we are going to have to
double our production capacity between now and 2020," Zangeneh
said during an international conference on the impact of oil from the
Caspian Sea and the Middle East on world markets.
Kuwait Airways Corp. (KAC) posted a profit of 77.2
million dollars in the fiscal year which ended on June 30, going into
the black for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, an official
report showed on Sunday.
Syria seeks breathing space
The recent land mark agreement between Iraq and
Syria to reopen the crude oil pipeline between them closed since 1982
may spell badly needed relief for the Syrian government.
Equally important the stabilization of the Syrian
economy is the strengthening of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad's own
political base in the country. But according to some analysts, the
prospects of relative economic relief may actually work to lessen the
government's enthusiasm towards more long term economic reforms.
Iran woos Gulf tourists
The Iranian government is wooing tourists from Gulf
states by scrapping visas requirements for short trips, radio Tehran
announced Monday. The move, the first of its kind that Tehran has
taken concerning its Gulf neighbours, was agreed by the council of
ministers late Sunday, with President Mohammad Khatami presiding over
the meeting. Up to now visitors from Gulf states have needed to apply
for a short-stay visa for visits of up to three months.
The move was taken "to encourage visits to
Iran by citizens of Persian Gulf states," the radio said. Many
people in the Gulf, especially living in the United Arab Emirates and
Bahrain, are of Iranian origin.
Russian trade delegation
A Russian delegation headed by a deputy minister
for industry, science and technology, Alexander Pivovarov, flew into
Baghdad on Monday for talks on bilateral cooperation. The 17-strong
delegation will hold talks with Iraqi officials, the INA news agency
Another delegation of 250 Russian deputies, oil
executives and other industrialists flew into Iraq last week to
participate in the Baghdad international trade fair.
Iraq, Egypt resume diplomatic relations
A big rift in the Arab unity was mended on Tuesday
with the re-establishment of Iraqi-Egyptian diplomatic relations
according to an Arab diplomatic source in Baghdad.
Full diplomatic relations between Iraq and Egypt
was cut off in 1991 due to the Gulf War.
"The Egyptian interests section in Baghdad was
Monday turned into an embassy which represents Egypt," the
diplomat who asked for anonymity told AFP news agency.
The decision came following a series of reciprocal
visits by senior Iraqi and Egyptian officials and the
"improvement of relations between the two countries," he