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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lavrov Rules Out 'Gas OPEC'

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday ruled out the creation of a "gas OPEC," an idea implicitly floated by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Interfax reported.

"There are no plans to create a gas OPEC; I haven't heard such calls," the news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

Lavrov did not expand, but his remarks appeared to be the first Russian reaction to a proposal made by Ahmadinejad during his meeting with President Vladimir Putin last week.

"Our energy cooperation is effective enough," news agencies quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Putin when the two met on the fringes of a regional conference in Shanghai.

"But it could be even more productive if we cooperated in pricing gas and forming the main gas routes."

High energy prices have renewed fears in the West that Russia is seeking to use its energy resources as a political weapon. Tensions between the West and Iran -- which has the world's second-largest gas deposits, after Russia, and is a leading oil producer -- over Iran's nuclear program have become a key factor in this year's oil price rises.

"There will be no cartel," Lavrov said, Interfax reported. "But cooperation between countries that produce and export energy will be developing."

At the Shanghai meeting, Putin praised cooperation with Iran and backed the idea of setting up joint ventures in the energy sector and building a gas pipeline from Iran to India.