- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

VIENNA (AP) - Russia says it is sending a permanent observer to OPEC.

The move signals closer ties between the largest non-OPEC producer of oil and the organization accounting for more than a third of world output.

The plan was announced Sunday by Russian Deputy Premier Igor Sechin at a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Still, Russia prizes its independence and is unlikely to become an OPEC member. The meeting of OPEC ministers ending Sunday may cut output or simply issue a call for members to stop overproduction.

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