Moscow, April 6, IRNA -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi here Tuesday expressed the hope an upcoming summit of Caspian Sea littoral states would draw their stances closer on the sea's issues.
Kharrazi made the comment in the ongoing meeting of foreign ministers of the oil-rich Caspian Sea littoral states which kicked off here Tuesday to resolve various issues affecting the Caspian Sea.
"We hope the summit of Caspian Sea littoral states to be held in Tehran in the near future would pave the ground for the states to adopt closer stances and thereby settling the issues affecting the sea," Kharrazi said.
"Several developments have occurred since the foreign ministers of the states met at the regional and international levels on the Caspian Sea and these have changed the views on the issues," he added.
He stressed the importance of achieving a peaceful and speedy settlement of the issues that bog the sea.
The working group of the Caspian Sea could finalize several parts of a convention that is currently being worked out to forge a legal regime for the sea that will meet the approval of the majority after 13 successful meetings," he noted.
He said the matter of drawing up a convention is important as it would determine the rights and responsibilities of littoral states to the sea and set forth principles for cooperation and multinational activities in the sea, the minister said.
"Signing the Tehran Convention on the Protection of the Caspian Sea's Environment by the five littoral states -- Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan -- in November 2003 is among the important developments that have evolved through constructive talks and the intervention of international organizations.
"This is an important development because it proves that a consensus on one of the most important issues affecting the Caspian Sea is not only possible but aso inevitably necessary and a good model for settling all other issues of the Caspian Sea," he further added.
Kharrazi, however, reiterated that there are still some key issues which have not been agreed upon, adding that the whole process of arriving at a final settlement demands patience.
"This issue can be resolved by considering the long-term interests of the region, by considering the views of all coupled with a firm determination by littoral states to cooperate and achieve a consensus. A settlement of the issues would lead to stability and sustainable development of the region," the minister said.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran demands that the interest of all littoral states be met through peaceful means and within the framework of international regulations," he further said.
Kharrazi stressed the need to continue the multilateral talks that have been held by the five littoral states and urged continuation of their active participation in the meetings of the working group as well as the bilateral consultations to pave the ground for reaching a consensus on the issues.
He called for expansion of bilateral cooperation among the Caspian Sea littoral states particularly in transportation, transit, trade, fishery, investment and in the implementation of oil, gas and electricity projects.
The Iranian minister also highlighted the importance of establishing a regional institution comprising the sea's littoral states that will guard the Caspian Sea's resources, confront common threats and challenges and ensure a peaceful and stable region.
Kharrazi also stressed the need to thrash out a legal framework for cooperation and activities in the sea, utilization of its resources based on equitable sharing and international rules and regulations.
He also stressed non-interference of foreign powers and avoidance of unilateral measures aimed at complicating regional issues, and called for attempts to remove security threats through effective measures and joint cooperation against terrorism, drug smuggling and organized crime.
Foreign ministers, special envoys and experts on Caspian Sea affairs from Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are participating in the current meeting.
Issues related to an upcoming summit to be held in Tehran in the second half of this year are other topics on the agenda of the meeting.
Main items on the agenda include the search for a legal regime for the Caspian Sea, protection of its environment and biological resources as well as shipping and other activities on its waters.
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