Tehran, Jan 4, IRNA -- Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said on Saturday the joint exploitation of the Caspian Sea is the best option to settle the Caspian Sea issue adding that any drawback in this regard should be met through protocols.
After a one-day visit to Turkmenistan, Kharrazi told reporters that if the Caspian Sea is to be divided then the sea-bed resources should also be divided between all states bordering the Caspian.
Kharrazi furthermore said he had positive talks with the Turkmen officials on the various issues including the Caspian Sea. He said Iran and Turkmenistan would go ahead with their expert work on he Caspian issue.
Kharrazi added the Caspian Sea states have to come to a consensus on the Caspian sea-bed resources.
He said any legal status of the Caspian should consider the rights of all states surrounding the sea fairly.
He called on those who criticize the Foreign Ministry policy on the Caspian Sea to express their attitudes based on the expert studies and works and to set forth proper solutions if they have some.
The five coastal states of the Caspian sea -- Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan -- are at odds over the division of the land-locked sea which yet lacks a new legal regime to exploit its resources.
Iran calls for a condominium or common sovereignty on the sea and has made it known that it considers any unilateral deals for energy exploration in the Caspian Sea as null and void before the issue of legal regime of the Caspian is settled.
Iran believes the agreements of 1921 and 1940 between Moscow and Tehran are still valid until a new legal regime of the Caspian Sea is drawn up.
Iran and Russia technically used to share the sea but since former Soviet Union's collapse and the birth of the three other republics, they have had to redraw the Caspian Sea's marine borders.
Kharrazi, who paid a one-day visit to Ashkhabad at the head of a politico-economic delegation, came back home on Saturday.
During his Turkmenistan visit, Kharrazi met Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov to discuss matters of mutual interest, in particular key issues such as the project on friendship dam, the issue of the Caspian Sea and cooperation in the gas sector.
He also held talks with his counterpart Rashid Meredov on the exchange of views on bilateral and regional issues such as the assessment of the developments in Afghanistan, the crisis in Iraq as well as international matters.
Asefi, speaking at his weekly press briefing, said the success of the visit would promote Tehran-Ashkhabad mutual trade and economic ties, and would also bring the two countries' stances regarding the Caspian Sea legal regime close to each other.
Kharrazi arrived in Ashkhabad on Saturday morning at the head of a political and economic delegation for a one-day visit where he met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and discussed the two countries' "big joint projects" in the energy field and their cooperation on the Caspian Sea.
The land-locked sea's carve-up is a bone of contention among its littoral states which have failed so far to work out a formula to exploit its resources.
Iran and Turkmenistan call for an equal division of the land-locked sea, while Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan say that it must be divided according to the size of the five countries' coastlines.
Asefi said Kharrazi had also discussed activation of the Caspian working committee, buying and re-exporting Turkmen gas through Iran's southern ports, drawing up the agenda of Iran-Turkmenistan joint economic commission and securing the payment of Turkmen enterprises' debts to Iranian traders.
He also said that in the wake of Kharrazi's talks with Turkmen officials, many Iranian traders had been able to collect their debts from Turkmen traders.
While in Ashkhabad, Kharrazi also met and conferred with Turkmen Foreign Minister Batyr Berdyyev and the vice-president for oil and gas affairs on issues of mutual interest.
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