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As Donald Trump Calls For Boost, Oil-Exporting Nations Eye Output Cuts

“Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted,” Donald Trump had said.

Vienna: 

OPEC members and other oil-producing countries mulled cuts in output Thursday to prop up plunging prices, defying repeated calls by US President Donald Trump that they keep the taps open.

“We’re looking for a sufficient cut to balance the market, equally distributed between countries,” Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters ahead of an OPEC meeting in the Austrian capital.

Oil ministers from 20 or so countries are in Vienna for two days of meetings — first, the 15 members of OPEC, then a wider group including countries outside the cartel — to discuss how to counter the tumble in prices over the past two months.

The price of a barrel of Brent, the European benchmark, fell four percent to below $60 Thursday, hit by the Saudi comments which were taken on the markets to be very cautious and concerns over an economic slowdown.

On Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to urge producers to keep pumping.

“Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!” said Trump, who has repeatedly accused the cartel of keeping prices artificially high.

Saudi minister al-Kalih pointedly said Washington should back off.

“We don’t need permission from anyone to cut,” he said.

The US “is not in a position to tell us what to do,” he added.

At the end of 2016, OPEC’s regular members joined forces with other countries — most notably Russia — to scale back output in a bid to reduce a glut that was weighing on prices.

The coordinated move — which has since been extended — stimulated a long rally in oil prices right up until October 2018.

Over the past two months, however, prices have plunged again.

– Cuts on the cards? –

In order to try and counter this, the so-called OPEC+ — who together account for more than half of the world’s oil output — is discussing renewing the pact or perhaps cutting output still further.

All the signals are that more reductions in output are on the cards, despite the pressure from Trump, who argues that higher energy costs will choke off the economy.

“A million (barrels cut) would be ideal,” the Saudi minister said. “Ideally, everyone should join equally. I think that’s the fair and equitable solution.”

OPEC daily output stood at 32.99 million barrels in October, according to the International Energy Agency.

However, OPEC’s third-biggest producer Iran wants to be exempted from any such measures.

Given the economic sanctions being reimposed by the United States, the Islamic republic ” doesn’t join any agreement for cutting production because of the special situation Iran faces,” oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said.

Zangeneh said the estimated surplus currently on the market amounted to 1.3-2.4 million barrels per day.

Ideally, “the price would be better to stand at $60-70. That is acceptable for most OPEC countries.”

Trump’s intervention complicates matters.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, in particular, finds itself in an especially delicate position in the wake of the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump has continued to support the kingdom despite worldwide outrage over the murder but he is at the same time keeping up the pressure for lower prices.

“The big unknown is how President Trump will react to any production cuts,” said analysts at ING.

Iran’s Zangeneh said it was the first time a US president was trying to tell OPEC what to do.

“They should know that OPEC is not part of their Secretary of Energy.”

Most OPEC members felt the same way, but “some members are going along with US policy,” he said.

Negotiations between OPEC members are fraught, however, as some feel that Saudi Arabia wields too much clout in setting policy.

Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of being in thrall to the US.

In a surprise move on Monday, Qatar — which has been an OPEC member since 1961 — said it would quit the cartel next month in order to focus on gas production.

Doha accounts for only around two percent of OPEC output but the move caught the headlines given the political overtones.

Qatar minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said he had met a number of other OPEC ministers, but not his Saudi Arabian colleague.

“I don’t think they want to meet me. They are blockading our country,” he told journalists.

Qatar has been isolated by a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia since June 2017, in the worst political fallout between the energy-rich Gulf powers.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Kremlin Should Take The Lead On Rap Music, Not Shut It Down, Says Russia President Vladimir Putin

Putin also addressed a question on how to regulate the musical genre’s use of censorious language. (File)

Moscow: 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday the Kremlin should play a leading role in Russian rap music and in youth culture, rather than trying to shut it down.

His comments follow a spate of concert cancellations by venue owners and local authorities across Russia and the brief arrest of a popular rap artist, Husky. The crackdown has sparked considerable discussion in recent months, especially among young people.

Putin said such heavy-handed measures were often counterproductive, and suggested an alternative approach.

“If it’s impossible to stop something, you’ve got to take charge of it,” he said during a live broadcast of a meeting of his advisory council on culture and the arts.

“How to do this, how to take charge and guide in the necessary direction… That’s the most important issue,” he said, adding that the question would be discussed further by members of his administration and the culture ministry.

Husky, who raps in Russian and whose songs have at times been critical of the government, said his concerts were under pressure because authorities objected to lyrics they found offensive.

After his concert was cancelled in Krasnodar, in southern Russia, he tried to perform from the roof of a car instead, leading to his arrest for hooliganism.

His arrest and sentence to 12 days imprisonment led to a public outcry and the rapper was released early, thanks to the intervention of members of the presidential administration, the editor of state broadcaster Russia Today said on Twitter.

Putin on Saturday was responding to a statement about rap concert cancellations made by music producer and member of the advisory council Igor Matvienko. Among other suggestions, Matvienko proposed creating a parental advisory guidance system for concerts.

Addressing Matvienko, Putin said, “You said that rap (rests on) three pillars: sex, drugs and protests. Of all of these, drugs are the most worrying,” Putin said. “They are the route to a nation’s degradation.”

Putin also addressed the question of how to regulate the musical genre’s use of censorious language.

He said that he had talked about swearing with a linguist.

“She told me personally that it’s a part of our language. It’s just a question of how you use it,” he said.

Matvienko also suggested guidelines on the use of swear words online and in the media, but Putin said this was a sensitive matter as such words are part of Russians’ common culture.

Likening swear words to body parts, Putin joked: “we have all sorts of body parts, and it’s not like we put them on display all the time, whether it’s hot or cold.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)







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Interior Secretary To Leave In Latest High-Profile Exit, Says Trump

Ryan Zinke has come under scrutiny for his use of security details.

Washington: 

Donald Trump said Saturday that his interior secretary will be leaving soon — the latest in a series of high-profile departures from an administration beset by turnover and alleged ethical failings.

“Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years,” Trump wrote on Twitter, highlighting the fact that Zinke’s tenure was substantially longer than that of some other former top officials in the administration.

“Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation,” the president said, adding that a replacement would be announced next week.

The interior secretary is responsible for overseeing conservation and mineral extraction on public land that, if stitched together, would be larger than Mexico.

But Zinke has been the target of a number of ethics investigations, making him a lightning rod for complaints from Democrats, who expressed no regrets over his impending departure.

“Ryan Zinke was one of the most toxic members of the cabinet in the way he treated our environment, our precious public lands, and the way he treated the govt like it was his personal honey pot,” said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

“The swamp cabinet will be a little less foul without him.”

Spending, Ethics Probed

Zinke, a former Montana congressman, was the subject of various investigations linked to his real estate holdings in his home state and his actions in office.

Along with Trump’s first environmental protection chief Scott Pruitt — who resigned in July amid a series of scandals over ethical lapses and lavish spending — Zinke helped spearhead a presidential push to sharply relax environmental regulations and expand energy production.

The Zinke announcement came just a week after another impending high-profile departure — that of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly — was made public.

Trump on Friday tapped Mick Mulvaney — the director of the Office of Management and Budget — to serve as chief of staff on an acting basis, setting him up to be the third person to hold the post since the president took office in early 2017.

A series of other top officials have left the Trump White House, including a secretary of state, two national security advisors and an attorney general, as well as Pruitt.

Zinke is one of several members of Trump’s cabinet to come under fire over expenditures, including reports that his department was spending nearly $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in his office — a cost he later said he negotiated down to $75,000.

Riding With Pence

He had been the subject of some 15 investigations, including one for allowing his wife to ride in government vehicles and another for taking a security detail with him on a vacation trip to Turkey, according to The Washington Post.

He has also faced criticism over costly US Park Police helicopter flights last year that allowed him to return to Washington for a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence, and several other flights on non-commercial aircraft.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL who wore cowboy boots to the office and carried himself with a Western swagger, seemed to emulate Trump when under fire, lashing back rather than retreating.

Last month, when a Democratic congressman said it was time for new leadership at the Interior Department, Zinke suggested in a tweet that his critic had a drinking problem.

“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” he wrote, a comment that many in Washington thought crossed a line.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Egypt Unearths 4,400-Year-Old Tomb Of Top Ancient Priest

The tomb is decorated with scenes showing the royal priest alongside his mother, wife: Official

Cairo: 

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a priest dating back more than 4,400 years in the pyramid complex of Saqqara south of the capital Cairo, authorities said on Saturday.

“Today we are announcing the last discovery of the year 2018, it’s a new discovery, it’s a private tomb,” antiquities minister Khaled el-Enany told an audience of invited guests including reporters.

“It is exceptionally well preserved, coloured, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest… (and) is more than 4,400 years old,” he said.

The tomb belongs to “Wahtye”, a high priest who served during the fifth dynasty reign of King Neferirkare, the antiquities ministry said.

His tomb is decorated with scenes showing the royal priest alongside his mother, wife and other members of his family, the ministry said in a statement.

It also contains more than a dozen niches and 24 colourful statues of the cleric and members of his family, it said.

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It also contains more than a dozen niches and 24 colourful statues of the cleric

In November archeology officials announced the discovery in Saqqara of seven sarcophagi, some dating back more than 6,000 years, during excavation work started in April by the same archaeological mission.

Three of those tombs contained mummified cats and scarabs.

The Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo is home to the famous Djoser pyramid, a more than 4,600-year-old monument which dominates the site and the country’s first.

The tomb, built by the master architect Imhotep for the Pharoah Djoser, stood 62 metres (203 feet) tall originally and is considered the oldest building in the world built entirely of stone.

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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