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Iran's viewpoints crucial in drafting Caspian Sea legal regime

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in Tehran on Tuesday that no agreement on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea can be finalized unless it includes Iran's viewpoints, IRNA reported.

Kharrazi told reporters on the sidelines of a regional working group to draft a convention on the sea's legal regime that Iran, as an important Caspian state, has always advocated consensus in talks to determine the legal status of the sea.

He said Iran has always encouraged all Caspian littoral states to work together to guarantee the security of the sea themselves, and regretted that no concrete step has been taken yet to this effect.

Kharrazi said the Caspian states must take more serious measures to prevent extraterritorial powers to misuse the situation of the sea for their own benefit.

He stressed that it was still not too late to work out a mechanism to prevent the influence of those powers aimed at creating imbalance in the region.

Kharrazi said Iran is currently trying to exchange viewpoints with all Caspian states to approve the convention on the Caspian legal regime as what he said would prevent extraterritorial powers to misuse the situation in the sea.

FM describes Caspian as source of peace, understanding

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Tuesday described the Caspian Sea as a source of peace, understanding and friendship for its littoral states, saying it provided a background for cooperation among them.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 12th meeting of the "Special Working Group to Compile the Convention for the Legal Regime of the Caspian Sea", he referred to the signing of the Convention to Protect Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea in Tehran this November and believed it opened up a new chapter in mutual cooperation among the sea's littoral states.

He further expressed his pleasure that the negotiations and efforts of the working group following the Ashkhabad Summit in May 2003 has been effective in bringing the views of the concerned countries closer together which led to the signing of the convention.

He said the convention will provide a proper ground for expansion of regional cooperation on economic, political and security issues.

Pointing out that Iran attached special importance to the Caspian Sea, he noted that Tehran always welcomed speeding up the negotiations, peaceful settlement of the sea's problems and expanding relations.

The foreign minister further stressed that Iran, due to the unique characteristics of the Caspian Sea, advocated the notion of common implementation of the sea as the best method for compiling the sea's legal regime.

Iran has always been ready to negotiate the issue, he noted. He also referred to heeding to the issue of freedom and security of trade shipping in the sea, working out appropriate instruments to protect its environment and to use its living resources in a sustainable manner, avoiding any military competitions and stopping all sorts of interventions by foreign countries as the principles to be taken into consideration in the future legal regime of the sea.

Kharrazi went on to point out that the ten-year old experiences have proven that unilateral measures and agreements which stood contrary to the principle of "consensus of votes" has resulted not in settlement of the issue but rather making it more complex.

However, he added, the positive experience of finalizing the convention has opened a new phase of cooperation based on respect for collective interests and making efforts to create an atmosphere of understanding and flexibility.

Kharrazi concluded his remarks by hoping that further understanding be achieved by the five Caspian Sea littoral states participating in the meeting through their taking the opportunity of the positive atmosphere created to solve the sea's problems.

The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention) was signed by the plenipotentiary representatives of the five littoral countries of the sea in Tehran in November.

Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the five countries situated around the world's biggest lake. The Tehran Convention was arranged and signed in 37 articles and 9 chapters.

... Payvand News - 12/9/03 ... --

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