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Venezuela, Iran Talk OPEC Strategy as World Economy Struggles

A woman joined thousands of government supporters in a plaza to protest U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's state oil company, in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday May 29, 2011. The Venezuelan government condemned U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela's state oil company for doing business with Iran, saying it is evaluating how fuel shipments might be affected.  Venezuela is one of the United States' main suppliers of petroleum, and the U.S. is the South American country's chief oil buyer. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

A woman joined thousands of government supporters in a plaza to protest U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's state oil company, in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday May 29, 2011. The Venezuelan government condemned U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela's state oil company for doing business with Iran, saying it is evaluating how fuel shipments might be affected. Venezuela is one of the United States' main suppliers of petroleum, and the U.S. is the South American country's chief oil buyer. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

As the world economy continues to lag and weigh on the oil prices, the presidents of Venezuela and Iran have agreed to work together within OPEC, the Venezuelan government said.

President Hugo Chávez spoke with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by telephone Monday, and the two agreed on the need to coordinate more closely in OPEC, Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said. It cited the "ominous effects of the crisis in the dominant powers' economies."

It also said the leaders agreed to instruct their oil ministers to maintain "fluid and constant communication."

Venezuela and Iran have traditionally favored efforts to boost oil prices within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Oil prices declined Tuesday amid concerns about sluggish growth in Germany and economic troubles in Europe. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery declined $1.23 to finish at $86.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Chávez and Ahmadinejad also discussed the conflicts in Libya and Syria. They plan to closely follow the situation in those countries and deepen efforts "to achieve peace," the Foreign Ministry's statement said, without elaborating.

Chávez has put an emphasis on building strong ties with Iran in recent years. He has also been a staunch defender of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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