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Saudi energy minister meets U.S. Iran envoy in Vienna, Tehran irate



VIENNA (Reuters) – Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook in Vienna on Wednesday, sources familiar with the meeting said.

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh criticized Hook over the meeting for what he said was his “meddlesome approach”.

Hook, a senior policy adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, met Falih a day before an OPEC meeting in Vienna which is due to debate oil production cuts.

U.S. President Donald Trump has urged Saudi Arabia to refrain from output cuts in order to keep oil prices low. He said higher oil supplies were a payback from Riyadh for U.S. support for Saudi Arabia against arch-rival Iran.

The United States reimposed sanctions on Tehran last month. The measure has severely reduced Iranian oil flows. Washington has said it wants ultimately to drive Iranian shipments to zero.

“If Mr. Hook has come to Vienna to apply for U.S. membership in OPEC, and this is the reason why he meets OPEC members, this request shall be reviewed,” Zanganeh told Iran’s Oil Ministry news website SHANA.

“Otherwise, he has adopted an unprofessional, naive and meddlesome approach. OPEC is an independent organization and is not part of the U.S. Department of Energy to take orders from Washington,” Zanganeh told SHANA.

Reporting by Rania El Gamal; additional reporting by Mohamed El-Sherif in Cairo; writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Dale Hudson and Edmund Blair