Khatami sends "oil message" to Saudi crown
TEHRAN, Sept 21 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami sent a message
on "oil questions" to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz
Tuesday, amidst rumours that the two countries had cut a deal over the
appointment of the next head of OPEC.
Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, director of Khatami's office, handed a "written
message on oil questions" to Crown Prince Abdullah, the official Iranian
news agency, IRNA, said, but gave no further details. It followed a message
sent by Crown Prince Abdullah to Khatami ten days ago.
The message arrived on the eve of the ministerial meeting of the Organisation
of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, which is due to name a new
secretary-general for the body.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have put forward candidates for the post.
On Sunday, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangheneh said Tehran and
Riyadh had agreed on their candidates sharing the secretary general's post
over the next six years.
A third candidate, Algeria's energy minister and acting OPEC president,
Yousef Yousfi, dropped out of the race.
However, some officials have expressed doubts about the Iran-Saudi deal,
which would have to be accepted by all OPEC members.
Iran's candidate, oil ministry official Hossein Khazempur Ardebili,
made an unsuccessful bid for the position in 1996. Saudi Arabia is also
putting forward an oil ministry official, Sulaiman al-Herbish, for the