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Safari says Caspian meeting winds up with no tangible results

The group of five Caspian states failed in their recent Moscow meeting to reach consensus on a convention defining the legal status of the Caspian Sea, postponing further discussions on the issue to a meeting which is due to be held in Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan on September 8-9, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Speaking on the outcome of the 10th meeting of the special working group of representatives from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan (Moscow, July 22-24), Mehdi Safari, Iran's Foreign Ministry official and special envoy in charge of Caspian Affairs Mehdi Safari told IRNA here on Monday that discussions on the settlement of the legal status of the Caspian Sea had been fruitful and held in good atmosphere.

Safari, however, admitted there had been differences among the participants in the meeting.

He said Tehran insisted on such issues as sovereignty, free shipping, fisheries, exploitation of underwater resources, security problems and demilitarization of the land-locked sea.

He added that Iran does not agree to bilateral or trilateral agreements, reached among some of the states.

The official said the states, however, will try to hold five-way meetings, believing that bilateral or trilateral agreements are not valid.

Safari said all the five states have agreed on a convention on protecting the sea's environment. He added that the convention is to be signed during a meeting in Tehran in November.

He added that the only difference among the members is the secretariat of the convention and its location.

Tehran is seeking a consensus with regard to the solution of the Caspian Sea Status problem, believing that 'the wealth of the Caspian Sea must be divided in all fairness'.

Safari said the convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea covers all possible questions.

On the basis of this, he added, agreements must be worded in a manner that they will govern different aspects of cooperation in the Caspian Sea.

The official said it is natural that all five states proceed from the fact that their interests must be taken into account and that is why they are seeking the inclusion of their proposals in the convention.

Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan have been attempting to divide their access to the resource-rich sea since shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan want to calculate the division in proportion to the length of the five Caspian countries' coastlines, while Iran and Turkmenistan have insisted each country get an equal 20 percent share.

The five Caspian states have signed a series of bilateral accords among themselves agreeing on how to divide up the sea, but have failed to conclude a wide-reaching agreement.

... Payvand News - 7/28/03 ... --

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