TEHRAN: Iran’s oil ministry said yesterday it was studying a presidential proposal to sell cheap crude to poor countries – a plan redolent of Venezuela’s attempts to counter US influence through cut-rate energy exports.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in April proposed strengthening the Opec fund to lighten the burden of surging oil prices on poorer countries while ensuring that rich nations paid the full price.

. . . Ahmadinejad has formed a strong alliance with fellow anti-US President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the world’s fifth biggest oil exporter.

Chavez has been sewing up cheap oil export deals around poor countries in the Caribbean and Central America in a bid to outflank the US, whose Free Trade Area of the Americas he vehemently opposes.

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