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Iran casts doubt on US offer of help over Caspian Sea

Report Source: Press TV

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has called into question a US offer to help Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over their disputes in the Caspian Sea.

Daniel Stain, senior adviser to special envoy of the US Department of State on Eurasian Energy, said at a press conference in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat last week that Washington was ready to offer assistance to Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the division of the Caspian Sea.

In response to the US official's remarks, Mottaki said it was "unclear" as to what motivated the US to extend the offer.

"We do not know the problem between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which the United States wants to solve," ISNA quoted Mottaki as saying on Monday.

He added that the littoral countries bordering the Caspian Sea could well handle matters independently, without relying on any "foreign" assistance.

"We are certain that the regional countries have an understanding of the situation. If there is a problem they are well capable of reaching the best possible decision. Therefore, we deem wrong the presence of any foreign forces in the [Caspian] Sea."

The maritime and seabed boundaries of the Caspian Sea have yet to be demarcated among Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, the five countries bordering the Sea.

Despite extensive negotiations, the legal status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Caspian Sea from space (NASA, 2003) -- see high resolution

 Mottaki reiterated that any decision making concerning the issue was "exclusively" reserved for the five littoral states, which, according to the foreign minister, are pursuing a policy of "collective" decision making.

He said seventy percent of the issues concerning the legal regime had been worked out, expressing hope that the remaining issues would soon be settled down.

Turkmenistan's gas may be pumped through the Nabucco pipeline project via Azerbaijan, which Turkmenistan has a dispute over some offshore oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea.

Nabucco gas pipeline

The issue has turned to an obstacle to working out the legal status of the Caspian Sea, which requires cooperation from all member states.

The Nabucco project will transfer Caspian gas to the heart of Europe in Austria. After years of stalling, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria finally sealed the Nabucco contract on July 13, as the first step toward building the pipeline that is to break Russia's near-monopoly on Europe's gas.

... Payvand News - 11/24/09 ... --

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