Venezuela's Maduro Holds Talks in OPEC Kingpin Saudi

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held talks in OPEC's leading oil producer Saudi Arabia, officials said, before he headed to Algeria for further dialogue about low world crude prices.

Venezuela's Maduro Holds Talks in OPEC Kingpin Saudi

"The visit aims to strengthen ties and friendship," a Venezuelan official told AFP in brief remarks, adding that it was "part of the tour to OPEC members."

Maduro arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday from Iran, a fellow member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Maduro discussed "developments in the international arena" and ways of enhancing ties between the two countries, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

It gave no details.

Salman is the heir to the throne held by King Abdullah, who was admitted to hospital on December 31.

The royal court later announced that Abdullah had pneumonia, but SPA said on Sunday that Salman had been "reassured" about the king's health.

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest crude exporter and the biggest producer in the 12-member OPEC cartel.

While Saudi Arabia says it is financially strong enough to withstand the drop in world oil prices, which fell about 50 percent last year, the budgets of Venezuela and Iran are under strain.

Venezuela has said it is willing to cut production to support prices but OPEC decided in November to maintain an output ceiling of 30 million barrels per day.

The decision intensified the price slide that began in the middle of the year, blamed on softer growth in demand and a stronger United States dollar as well as oversupply.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, his oil minister, and other top officials have criticised Saudi Arabia for not backing steps to bolster prices.

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