March 14, 2006, RFE -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today called for a ban on any outside military presence in the Caspian Sea, which Russia shares with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.
Lavrov said that "preventing the threat posed by the presence of forces of third countries would guarantee that no causes for conflicts will emerge" in the region. He was speaking at a working group meeting on the legal status of the sea.
Lavrov recalled Russia's proposal for all five Caspian Sea nations to form a joint naval force. The other states had previously responded cautiously to the proposal.
Lavrov also said Russia hoped that negotiations on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will soon be finalized. Iran has insisted that each of the five coastal states get an equal portion of the seabed, while most other countries want the division based on shoreline.
(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, AP)
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