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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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French Police Hit With Poo Bombs At “Yellow Vest” Protests

Saturday marked the 16th straight weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations in France since November.

France: 

French police are facing a new form of weapon during “yellow vest” protests — bags of fecal matter thrown bomb-like by demonstrators.

On Saturday “bags filled with faeces were thrown at police and exploded. Three policemen were soaked through with it,” Rudy Manna from the Alliance police trade union in the southern port city of Marseille told AFP.

One policeman also suffered an elbow injury when hit by “a poop-filled projectile”, Marseille police headquarters said.

Similar incidents took place in the southern city of Montpellier, police trade union representatives said.

Police said there had been calls on social media ahead of Saturday’s demonstrations for demonstrators to arm themselves with ‘Caca-tovs’ — after Molotov cocktails but filled with “caca”, the French term for poo.

“The policemen were deeply humiliated,” Manna said, adding that none of the perpetrators, hidden in a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators in Marseille, had been identified.

Saturday marked the 16th straight weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations in France since November, which have often seen security forces targeted with stones and other projectiles. 

Authorities said nearly 40,000 people took part.

A total of 11 people have died during the demonstrations which began over fuel taxes but mushroomed into a revolt by people in rural and small-town France against French President Emmanuel Macron.

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







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Weeks After Ban Announcement, Hafiz Saeed’s Outfits Still Operate In Pakistan

Hafiz Saeed’s Jaamat-ud-Dawa had been kept on watchlist of the Pakistan’s interior ministry. (Reuters)

New Delhi: 

 

Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation have not been banned by Pakistan despite its announcement about 14 days ago. The two terror outfits continue to be only in the list of groups under watch, according to Pakistan government’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA).

On February 21, Pakistan government had announced that it had banned the JuD and FIF, amid intense global pressure to rein in the terror groups following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers lost their lives.

“This implies that Pakistan has lied on the ban on Jud and FIF. In fact, it has just altered the date of the watch list placement to fool the world,” a senior security official said.

A spokesperson of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had said on February 21 that the decision to ban these two groups was taken during a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“It was decided during the meeting to accelerate action against proscribed organisations,” the spokesperson had said in a statement.

“It was further decided that Jamat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation be notified as proscribed organizations by the Ministry of Interior,” he added.

According to officials, JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service.

The US Department of the Treasury has designated its chief Hafiz Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a $10 million reward for any information.

The NCTA has so far banned 69 terror groups. A sizeable number of these groups are based in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).







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British PM Theresa May’s Lawyer Seeks Legal Fix To The Brexit Riddle

Ms May promised to seek “legally binding changes” to the Withdrawal Agreement.

LONDON: 

Prime Minister Theresa May’s top lawyer will try to clinch a Brexit compromise with the European Union this week in a last ditch bid to win over rebellious British lawmakers before crunch votes that could delay the divorce for three months.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29 but Ms May is hoping to win over at least 115 more British lawmakers by agreeing a legal addendum with the EU on the most controversial part of the deal – the so called Irish border backstop.

Concerns about the backstop, an insurance policy aimed at preventing a return to hard border controls between EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, helped prompt lawmakers to reject Ms May’s deal on Jan. 15 by 432 to 230 votes.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, Britain’s top government lawyer, is due back in Brussels on Tuesday and will seek legally binding changes to the Irish border backstop.

“The attorney general continues with his work to ensure we get legally-binding changes to ensure that we are not locked in the backstop,” Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said. “The negotiations are at a critical and sensitive point.”

Brokenshire said the aim was to address lawmakers’ main concern: that Britain could be trapped in the backstop – and thus EU rules – indefinitely.

As Brexit goes down to the line, investors are watching to see if Ms May can win over enough lawmakers to her deal: if she cannot, then the exit date is almost certain to be delayed by lawmakers eager to avoid a potentially disorderly no-deal exit.

Ms May promised to seek “legally binding changes” to the Withdrawal Agreement, though the EU has refused to reopen the draft treaty. Parliament will vote on her tweaked deal by March 12.

If it rejects the deal, lawmakers will have a vote on whether to leave without a deal and then on whether to delay Brexit, probably by a few months until the end of June.

LEGAL FIX

In a bid to win over opposition Labour Party lawmakers, Ms May will on Monday set out plans for a 1.6 billion pound ($2.11 billion) fund to help to boost economic growth in Brexit-supporting communities.

The Labour Party’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said the fund was “Brexit bribery”.

“This towns fund smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing Members of Parliament to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation,” he said.

As Ms May seeks to win over lawmakers, a group of prominent Brexit rebels set out the changes they want to see to her agreement in return for their support: it must be legally binding, clear and set out an exit route.

But the Daily Telegraph newspaper said Cox had abandoned attempts to secure a hard time-limit or unilateral exit mechanism for the backstop.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday that the bloc was ready to give Britain more guarantees that the backstop was only intended to be temporary and used for a “worst-case scenario”.

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







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