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The world's biggest oil producers Russia and Saudi Arabia today called for extending an output reduction deal ahead of an OPEC meeting later this month. "To underscore the determination of oil producers to ensure market stability, predictability and sustainable development -- the joint actions of the participating producers should be extended by 9 months, through March 31, 2018," the countries said in a joint statement published by Russia's energy ministry. The statement added that Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and his Saudi counterpart Khalid Al-Falih, who met in Beijing today, had "agreed to do whatever it takes to achieve the desired goal of stabilising the market and reducing commercial oil inventories to their 5-year average level." The ministers will consult with other oil-producing countries with "the goal of reaching full consensus on the 9- month extension" they are seeking, the statement said. Russian President Vladimir Putin said today in Beijing he was optimistic about the prospect of measures to maintain "stable and fair oil prices." "I recently met with the executives of all our largest oil companies and the energy minister behind closed doors," Putin told reporters. "We discussed this topic and we support this kind of proposal." OPEC members agreed in November to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day for six months beginning from the start of the year in a bid to reduce the glut of oil supplies and shore up prices. The move was partly matched by non-cartel producers led by Russia. OPEC is set to convene on May 25 in a meeting where its members and Russia are expected to roll over an agreement to cut production.
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