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Iran and Azerbaijan inching closer on Caspian Sea legal regime

Deputy Azerbaijan foreign minister said in Baku on Wednesday that Tehran and Baku are inching closer on Caspian Sea legal regime, IRNA reported.

Khalaf Khalafov told reporters that two sides are striving to reach an agreement to finalize the issue.

The Azerbaijan special representative for Caspian Sea legal affairs said that the experts will be in Tehran for a conference on December 9-10 to iron out their difference on the Caspian Sea legal regime.

He said some of the issues have been agreed among the littoral states and Tehran meeting aims to further coordinate the positions. He added the timing of a two-way meeting between Iran and Azerbaijan will be set at the conference.

"All the littoral states are against the militarization of the sea," Khalafov said stressing the need for further cooperation among the states.

Following the political developments in the Caspian Sea, the littoral states are after strengthening their own border security 'but, this should not lead to increased military presence in the area', he stated.

The five coastal states of the Caspian Sea -- Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan -- are at odds over the division of the land-locked sea which still lacks a new legal regime to exploit its resources after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Iran calls for a condominium or common sovereignty on the sea and has made it known that it will reject any unilateral action for energy exploration in the sea before the issue of the legal regime is settled.

Earlier in October, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said the recent trilateral agreement signed on October 8 between the Republic of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia on dividing the Caspian seabed is not in conformity with the principle of consensus and lacks legal standing.

Asefi said that any measure to change the legal regime of the Caspian Sea should be endorsed by all five littoral states.

... Payvand News - 12/4/03 ... --

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