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|Wednesday, July 05, 2000, updated at 13:59(GMT+8)|
Iraq not to Cut Oil Production: Oil MinisterIraq will not cut its own oil production to combat Saudi Arabia's move to increase oil output by 500,000 million barrels per day (bpd), Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammad Rashid said on Tuesday.
"We do not want to play a game with the United States. We have an independent policy within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and as a country," he said.
According to the oil minister, the surprising move of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, came under the U.S. pressure to push down oil prices.
Rashid made the remarks after consultation with some other OPEC oil ministers on Tuesday.
"We condemn any unilateral action by any OPEC member country to increase oil production," said Rashid.
Iraq has been part of the OPEC production quota until the 1991 Gulf War, triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Iraq's oil output is now monitored by the United Nations, not by the OPEC.
Iraq, one of the world's biggest oil producers and a major player in the international oil market, is now producing 3 million barrels of oil a day.
Iraq has said its oil output level will be increased to 3.3 million bpd by the end of the year and to 4 million bpd by next year.
Iraq ranks No. 2 in terms of oil reserves in the world, the second only to Saudi Arabia.
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