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10 January 2012 - 22:16

Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez says the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will not engage in the latest Western game of imposing sanctions against Iran.

"OPEC will not get involved in the issue with Iran," Ramirez said on Tuesday following a meeting between Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Venezuelan counterpart President Hugo Chavez.

President Ahmadinejad arrived in Caracas on the first leg of his five-day tour of several Latin American countries. His tour of Venezuela will be followed with an official visit to Nicaragua to attend the inauguration ceremonies of recently re-elected President Daniel Ortega.

The Iranian president will also visit Cuba and Ecuador and hold talks with senior officials of both nations on the further expansion of ties.

Ramirez also emphasized that the US-led sanctions are "causing instability in the [oil] market."

OPEC announced in its Annual Statistical Bulletin in 2011 that Venezuela, a founding member, has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the group's largest reserves holder.

OPEC's growth in oil reserves was mainly due to Venezuela, whose holdings climbed to 296.5 billion barrels from 211.2 billion in 2009.

In December 2011, the United States, Britain, and Canada imposed unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic's energy and financial sectors in a persisting bid to force a halt in Tehran's nuclear program.

Despite the widely publicized claims by the US, Israel and some of their European allies that Iran's nuclear program may include a military diversion, Iran steadfastly insists on the civilian nature of its nuclear program, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
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