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Oil producers meet in Qatar to talk price cap, despite Iran's absence

More than a dozen countries - including both OPEC and non-OPEC members - have met in Doha to discuss a production freeze on oil. Iran, meanwhile, refused to take part in the discussion.

Representatives from around 15 oil-producing countries on Sunday gathered at a luxury hotel in Doha seeking to counter lower global oil prices.

Saudi Arabia and fellow members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as outsiders including Russia, went ahead with the meeting despite Iran's last-minute decision not to send an envoy.

The meeting came amid talks of a draft agreement to freeze output at January levels, after prices

fell to a 13-year low in February

due to a supply glut in the world market.

In February, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar and Russia held surprise talks in which they first agreed to cap their output at the January rate.

Katar Treffen erdölfördernder Länder

At least 15 countries were in attendance at the meeting in Doha

Iran sits the meeting out

Iran initially said it would send an envoy, but decided to sit the meeting out only a day later, saying it didn't want to send the wrong signal.

"We reached the conclusion that the Doha meeting is for those who want to sign the oil freeze plans, and if we wanted to have a representative at the meeting, it would show our support of this project," Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh was quoted as saying by Iranian state news agency SHANA.

Now that many sanctions against it have been lifted by Western powers following the nuclear accord reached last year, Iran wants its oil production output to reach pre-sanction levels, putting it at odds with other members of OPEC.

Despite Iran's absence, the members of the meeting expressed optimism. The International Energy Agency, meanwhile, cautioned countries against expecting too much from the meeting.

bc/bk (AP, AFP)

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