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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Qatar Will Host Gas Exporters

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Qatar will host a meeting in April of gas exporters that hold 70 percent of the world's reserves, Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said Monday.

The meeting comes after Iran made overtures to Russia late last week about establishing a gas grouping like the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, stoking concerns among energy-consuming countries.

Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said the exporters would discuss forming an OPEC-like group.

"In the next meeting of the gas exporting countries they will decide about a gas OPEC," Vaziri-Hamaneh told Iran's Oil Ministry web site SHANA on Monday.

The formation of a cartel may be discussed when Putin visits the Persian Gulf next week, but Moscow has no immediate plans to take part in forming such a global cartel, said Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Federation Council.

Margelov said Tuesday that Russia would not be against coordinating its actions in the gas sphere with other major producers, but added that forming a gas cartel was not in Russia's interests.

"It's extremely important for Russia to have a freedom of maneuver, so we are unlikely to join an OPEC for gas," he told a news conference.

In Jordan, Russia hopes to develop prospective natural gas fields, build pipelines and power plants, Margelov said.

"There is no reason to talk about any kind of rivalry between Russia and the United States in the Middle East," Margelov said.

"In the political field, Russia and the United States are pursuing the same strategic goals."

Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, speaking to reporters later Tuesday, called the idea of creating an OPEC-like cartel "the labor of a feverish fantasy."

"We don't know whose, but it is not ours," he added.

(Reuters, AP, MT)