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The government will release its oil stockpiles, primarily by auction, if a U.S.-led war on Iraq causes market disruptions and prompts the international community to act jointly to prevent a price spike, a ministry official said Thursday.

“Basically, we will first call for tenders using the market mechanism,” said Seiji Murata, vice minister of economy, trade and industry, referring to a recent request by an oil industry leader that reserves be released by barter.

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