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OPEC To Curb Oil Production

Concerned over the price of oil falling more than 50 percent since a peak of more than $140 a barrel in July, OPEC has decided at an emergency meeting to cut daily output by 1.5 million barrels to help stop the price slide.

The decision represents a compromise between members who had pushed for a cut of 2 million barrels per day and others who argued that a cut of 1 million barrels per day would suffice for now.

OPEC President Chakib Khelil, who is also Algeria's energy minister, told reporters after the meeting that the move reflected a "pragmatic approach."

"There is no band, there is no price target," Khelil said. "I's a price that will be decided by the market."

Earlier, Khelil had summed up the dilemma OPEC members faced going into the emergency summit by saying "the concern of the producing countries is, whatever decision is made, not to have an impact on increasing the pain for the consuming countries."

But Khelil added that OPEC countries should not suffer simply to make the situation easier for economically beleaguered consumer states.

"The decision should not lead the producer countries [into a] situation where they will be joining the group of countries that are already suffering from the financial crisis," he said.

Iran and Venezuela, both of whose political leaderships regard the United States as a foe, were both pushing for maximum production cuts.

Countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, with friendly ties to Washington, appeared inclined to make minimum cuts in production, keeping the price of oil high but not so much as to further cripple the economies of the West.

OPEC is hoping the cut will stop the sharp fall in oil prices, which was under $65 a barrel ahead of the Vienna meeting from a price of more than $140 per barrel in July.

The immediate reaction to the OPEC decision was a continued drop in the price of oil.

compiled from agency reports