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Iran paper says OPEC should consider Tehran's candidate

TEHRAN, Sept 6 (AFP) - An Iranian newspaper on Monday urged OPEC to give strong consideration to Iran's candidate for secretary general of the oil group, saying the Islamic republic's role in getting crude prices to rebound was "pivotal."

"OPEC members realise that at the present sensitive juncture the name of the game is solidarity, which has been strongly upheld and enforced by Iran," said the English-language Iran Daily, widely read by diplomats here.

"By the same token, member states also appreciate that Iran has always played a pivotal role in OPEC's decision-making processes, perfectly manifested in the continuing price rise," it said."Iran is aware of its capabilities in the international community," it said.

Iran is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC behind Saudi Arabia, which along with Algeria is also putting forward candidates for secretary general of the powerful consortium.

But a source close to the group said last week that a vote, scheduled during a meeting of OPEC ministers in Vienna later this month, could be postponed due to a lack of consensus.

OPEC's secretary general must receive unanimous approval. Iran's Hossein Khazempur Ardebili and Sulaiman al-Herbish of Saudi Arabia have already been nominated, while Algerian Oil Minister Yousef Yousfi is being mooted as a potential compromise candidate.

The current secretary general, Nigeria's Rilwanu Lukman, was due to keep the post until November 2000 but is leaving OPEC afer being appointed advisor to the new Nigerian president on oil and energy affairs at the end of May.

Production cutbacks agreed by OPEC nations have been credited with helping worldwide crude prices, which slumped to record lows in recent months, rebound to around the 20 dollar per barrel mark.


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