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Iranian: Cut oil-dollar link

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Associated Press / November 19, 2007

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday said that OPEC's members have expressed interest in converting their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating US dollar, which he called a "worthless piece of paper."

His comments at the end of a rare summit of OPEC heads of state exposed fissures within the 13-member cartel - especially after US ally Saudi Arabia was reluctant to mention concerns about the falling dollar.

The Iranian leader's comments also highlighted the growing challenge that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, faces from Iran and its ally Venezuela within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper," Ahmadinejad told reporters after the close of the summit. He blamed President George W. Bush's policies for the decline of the dollar and its negative effect on other countries.

Oil is priced in US dollars on the world market. The currency's depreciation concerns oil producers because it has contributed to rising crude prices and has eroded the value of their dollar reserves.

Iran and Venezuela proposed trading oil in a basket of currencies but have not found support from enough OPEC members.

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