TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not participate in the upcoming OPEC meeting in Vienna, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday.
The report undercut a statement last week by a senior government official that Ahmadinejad would chair the next OPEC meeting in his capacity as the country's caretaker oil minister.
But the Guardian Council, Iran constitutional watchdog body, ruled Friday that Ahmadinejad can't also serve in the oil ministry role.
The comments on IRNA by Shojaeddin Bazargani, a senior Oil Ministry adviser, suggested that Ahmadinejad has backed down after the ruling. Bazargani was quoted by IRNA as saying that an Iranian Cabinet minister will attend the meeting.
"During a meeting, the president announced that he won't attend the upcoming OPEC meeting and that a Cabinet minister at his discretion will participate," IRNA quoted Bazargani as saying.
Ahmadinejad dismissed Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi last week as part of a Cabinet restructuring plan to merge eight ministries into four. The move put him temporarily at the helm of the country's most vital sector. Iran also holds the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' rotating presidency this year.
Iran — OPEC's second largest oil exporter and the world's fourth-largest crude oil producer — is typically seen as a price hawk. The country relies on oil exports for about 80 percent of its public revenues and, despite crude's price rally over the past couple of months, has said there is no need to adjust OPEC members' output quotas to cool the market.