by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) June 13, 2012
OPEC chief Abdullah El-Badri spoke out against looming new sanctions against cartel member Iran on Wednesday at the start of a two-day oil conference in Vienna.
"I don't want to see any of my member countries under embargo," El-Badri told oil representatives and ministers, as the European Union prepares to impose a July 1 oil embargo on Iran over its controversial nuclear drive.
"I am really against this 100 percent," he added.
"Iran is a founder member, it has a great ability to produce oil", the OPEC secretary-general also told journalists later.
"So I hope that this embargo will be lifted somehow, by discussion and by... peaceful solutions."
Western countries and Israel believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb under cover of its civilian programme but Tehran insists its purpose is merely peaceful.
The United States and ally Israel -- the sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state in the Middle East -- have even threatened military strikes against the Islamic Republic if diplomacy fails.
Iran, OPEC's second-biggest oil producer, is already under four sets of sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.
New talks with the so-called P5+1 powers -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France, plus Germany -- are set for June 18-19 in Moscow after previous attempts in Istanbul and Baghdad achieved little.
US calls for unity with China on Iran
The United States has exempted 18 nations but not China from tough sanctions that come into effect on June 28 on countries that buy oil from Iran, which Israel and some Western officials accuse of building a nuclear weapon.
Kurt Campbell, the top State Department official on East Asia, said that the United States and China were "right in the middle" of talks about Iran and did not answer a question on whether Beijing would receive an exemption.
"We have underscored how important it is to have a solid, unified international consensus about how to deal with the challenges posed by Iran's nuclear program," Campbell said at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think-tank.
But Campbell welcomed China's efforts in the so-called P5+1 -- a group comprising Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States that is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.
"I must say we have thanked China for their support within the P5+1 and we will continue close consultations with them going forward," he said.
China has defended its oil purchases, saying that they were legal and transparent and criticizing the United States for imposing sanctions unilaterally instead of working through the United Nations.
The sanctions would bar business with financial institutions of countries that do business with Iran's central bank, which handles oil transactions, effectively forcing a choice between operating in Iran or the United States.
On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exempted emerging economies including India -- which was initially angered by the US law but has pledged to cut oil purchases from Iran, which with New Delhi has traditionally warm ties.
Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. US intelligence, while critical of Iran, has not concluded that the regime is building a nuclear weapon.
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Russia presses Iran ahead of nuclear talks
Tehran (AFP) June 13, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew into Iran on Wednesday for a brief visit to discuss upcoming international talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. The trip preceded a new round of negotiations between Iran and the major powers that is to be held in Moscow next Monday and Tuesday. In a joint news conference after meeting his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, Lavro ... read more
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