Brown scales down oil meeting

The Prime Minister's plan to bring together the leaders of major oil-producing and consuming countries for a conference has been scaled down, Downing Street confirmed.

A spokesman for Gordon Brown said the decision was taken to make the December gathering a less high-profile meeting of energy ministers because heads of state and government will have a chance to discuss oil issues at US President George Bush's global summit in Washington in November.

Mr Brown announced plans for a conference of heads of state to discuss fuel policy when he attended a conference held in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah in June, at which oil producers and major consuming countries discussed how to respond to the spike in prices.

Crude was then selling for around $140 a barrel, but slackening of demand has since led to a fall to around $65.

Opec secretary general Abdullah al-Badri told the Times: "The meeting [in Jeddah] was called because prices went out of control but, in my opinion, there should be no follow-up."

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