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French Version

Germany warns world economy at risk from oil prices

Kuwait 'not happy' with current rates

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned on a visit to Kuwait on Tuesday that world oil prices were too high and could endanger the world economy. "The current prices are high which poses a danger to the world economy," he told reporters after delivering an address at Kuwait's Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"It is in our interests that we see a fair price for oil on the international market," said Schroeder, who arrived in the emirate Monday on a two-day visit as part of a Gulf tour.

"Obviously we will be happy if an increase in production is possible. But in any case, there should be no talk about cutting production now. We need more transparency regarding oil prices" because that fuels speculation, he added.

"We have to settle this problem because prices are not only governed by supply and demand but also by speculation. This harms the interests of consuming and producing countries," said Schroeder.

The German economy, the biggest in Europe, is unlikely to grow by more than 1 percent this year, the new head of the government's so-called "five wise men" panel of economic advisers said in an interview published Tuesday.

After talks with Schroeder on Monday, Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah said his country was "not happy to see oil prices reaching this [high] level." OPEC President and Kuwaiti Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmed Fahd al-Sabah said he would propose maintaining the cartel's current production ceiling at its March 16 meeting but would urge consideration of an increase if prices continued to rise.

World oil prices climbed above $52 in New York for the first time in four months Monday on freezing weather in the northern hemisphere and a bullish price outlook from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, before cooling on profit taking.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, rose $0.26 to $51.75 a barrel - its highest closing price since hitting a record Oct. 22, of $55.67.

In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in April gained $0.45 to close at $50.06 a barrel after hitting an intra-day high of $50.34. The closing price was the highest since Oct. 27.

Beirut,03 07 2005
The Daily Star
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