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UN chief says Saudi king ready to restore oil prices to 'appropriate' levels

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - UN chief Ban Ki-moon says Saudi Arabia's king is ready to help restore soaring world oil prices to more "appropriate" levels.


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - UN chief Ban Ki-moon says Saudi Arabia's king is ready to help restore soaring world oil prices to more "appropriate" levels.

The UN secretary general spoke with reporters after meeting King Abdullah in the port city of Jidda during a one-day trip to the world's largest oil producer.

The official Saudi News Agency quoted Ban as telling reporters that the king believes that current oil prices are abnormally high.

Saudi Arabia has called for a meeting of oil producing and consuming countries on June 22 in Jidda to discuss the issue.

The New York Times, citing unnamed analysts and oil traders briefed by Saudi officials, reported Saturday that the Saudis plan to announce a production increase of about 500,000 barrels a day following the meeting.

On Saturday, the Saudi oil minister's adviser told The Associated Press that the minister would address the production increase reports the next day. But on Sunday, the adviser, Ibrahim al-Muhanna, said there was no meeting scheduled.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, is reportedly concerned that sustained high oil prices will eventually slacken the world's appetite for oil, affecting the kingdom in the long run.

Crude prices have reached record highs and topped US$139 a barrel on June 6 after surging almost $11 in the biggest single-day price leap ever.

Prices have since receded, with the benchmark light, sweet crude for July delivery falling $1.88 to settle at US$134.86 on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday. In London, July Brent crude lost $1.84 to settle at $134.25 on the ICE Futures exchange.

The current president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Chakib Khelil, has said that the cartel would make no new decision on production levels until its Sept. 9 meeting in Vienna.

However, OPEC ministers often follow the lead of the Saudis when discussing whether to increase production to take the pressure off rising prices.

 
 
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