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Saudi Arabia, Russia Lead 4-party Freeze on Oil Outputs

FILE - A Saudi Aramco oil installion known as "Pump 3" in the desert near the oil-rich area of Khouris, 160 km east of the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Four of the world's biggest oil-producing nations have reached an agreement to freeze output to tackle the global oil surplus.

The oil ministers of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Qatar agreed to the pact Tuesday during a closed-door meeting in the Qatar capital of Doha. The quartet will freeze output at January levels, which Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi called "adequate."

The meeting is a signal that oil-producing nations, including members of OPEC, will eventually agree to an outright production cut to end a 19-month decline in prices that has sent oil falling below $30 a barrel for the first time in well over a decade. Those factors, combined with falling demand for oil, have drained government budgets in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Oil prices rose to just over $35 a barrel Tuesday on anticipation of a deal to cut production, but dropped to under $34 a barrel after the output freeze was announced.

Observers predict oil prices will eventually fall to at least $20 a barrel before any recovery begins.

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