Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said Tuesday he hoped additional producers would join a potential deal to freeze output next month, saying it could help address a global glut.

"Freeze is the beginning of a process," Naimi said at a Houston energy conference in a speech broadcast online. "That means if we can get all the major producers to agree not to add additional barrels, then this high inventory we have now will probably decline in due time."

"It's going to take time."

Following a meeting last week, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela agreed to freeze output at January levels on condition that other major producers followed suit.

"We had one meeting, four countries agreed," Naimi said. "We sent emissaries to other countries. There is a lot of talk, and hopefully sometime in March, there will be another meeting and probably gather more agreements on freezing."

Naimi said freezing output was more realistic than cutting because "not many countries are going to deliver, even if they say they will cut production."

Oil prices accelerated losses after his remarks. Near 1625 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery dropped $1.57 to $31.82 a barrel.

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