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DOHA: OPEC’s top Arab energy ministers arrived in Doha on Monday for the 12th Arab Energy Conference as countries clash at the UN’s COP28 climate summit over a possible agreement to phase-out fossil fuels.

OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais in a letter dated Dec. 6 and seen by Reuters urged OPEC members to reject any COP28 deal which targets fossil fuels rather than emissions.

Ministers from Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria and Oman arrived for the energy meeting, as well as Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman who had been in Dubai for the U.N climate summit. United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei was absent.

Saudi Arabia, the de-facto leader of OPEC, and top ally Russia are among several countries insisting that the COP28 conference in Dubai focus only on reducing climate pollution - and not on targeting the fossil fuels causing it, according to observers in the negotiations.

Yet at least 80 countries including the United States, the European Union and many poor, climate-vulnerable nations are demanding that a COP28 deal call clearly for an eventual end to fossil fuel use.

When asked about Kuwait’s position on the climate talks, Oil Minister Saad Al Barrak told reporters it was not established yet.

Deals at UN climate summits must be passed by consensus among the nearly 200 countries present.

OPEC members push against including fossil fuels phase-out in COP28 deal

The summits aim to establish a consensus on the world’s next steps to address climate change - though it is up to individual countries to ensure it happens through their national policies and investments.

For oil-rich countries, a deal to ditch fossil fuels - even without a firm end date - would signal a political willingness from other nations to slash their use.

COP28 is scheduled to end on 12 December, as is the two-day 12th Arab Energy Conference.

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