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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh on Tuesday and both men praised the level of cooperation inside OPEC+, the Russian foreign ministry said.

The comments were issued amid Western media reports that some members of OPEC+, an alliance of OPEC members and their allies, were considering removing Russia from the group.

“They noted the stabilising effect that the tight cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia has on world markets for hydrocarbons in this strategically important sector,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia outside of business hours.

Lavrov arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and is expected to meet with other foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Saudi state media reported.

OPEC+ is set to stick to an oil production deal agreed last year at its meeting on June 2 and raise July output targets by 432,000 barrels per day, six OPEC+ sources told Reuters last week, rebuffing Western calls for a faster increase to lower surging prices.

Ukraine, West must act to resolve food crisis: Russia’s Lavrov

OPEC+ was formed in 2016 and assigned production cuts among its members to keep oil markets stable and act against price collapses, particularly as economies shrank sharply during the COVID pandemic.

Russia is a leading member of OPEC+, along with some ex-Soviet states and other countries.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting OPEC delegates, suggested that exempting Russia from OPEC+ could potentially pave the way for other producers to pump significantly more crude as sought by the United States and European nations.

Lavrov’s meeting with his Saudi counterpart came shortly after the European Union agreed on significant cuts to imports of Russian crude as part of its latest sanctions linked to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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