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US dollar dealings for oil 'may be ended after secret talks'

Several powerful countries around the world are planning to stop using the US dollar for oil dealings, according to a newspaper report.

UK newspaper the Independent has claimed that Gulf Arab states have held secret talks with Russia, China, Japan and France on replacing the dollar with a variety of currencies including the euro and the Chinese yuan by 2018.

It is believed that it is proposed that gold, which has seen recent sudden rises in price, would be used as a transitional currency during the phasing out of the dollar and replacing it with several different currencies.

An unnamed Chinese source told the Independent: "These plans will change the face of international financial transactions.

"America and Britain must be very worried."

"You will know how worried by the thunder of denials this news will generate."

The story has dominated today's IMF conference in Istanbul, with the Saudi Arabian central bank chief Muhammed al-Jasser and Russian deputy finance minister Dmitry Pankin issuing outright denials that any such talks were taking place.

But publication of the story saw the euro climb against the dollar to $1.4749 in European trade from $1.4662, although the denials at the IMF conference saw it fall back to $1.4701.

The Independent's Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, who broke the story, said the end of dollar dealing for oil may mean the beginning of an economic war between the US and China over Middle East oil.

China's fast-growing economy imports around 60 per cent of its oil and since 2008 has had an $8 billion deal with Iran to develop its gas resources and refining capacity.

Last month Iran announced that it was to change its foreign currency reserves from dollars to euros, the first oil producing country to do so since Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

By Asim Shah