Caspian States Fail to Reach Status Agreement

MOSCOW (Reuters)–The five states bordering the Caspian sea failed again to reach an agreement on its legal status during a meeting in Moscow–Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Proshin was quoted as saying on Thursday.

"The positions still differ widely," Proshin was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The two-day meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of Russia–Kazakhstan–Turkmen’stan–Azerbaijan and Iran finished on Thursday with the signing of a joint communiqu outlining future work–Proshin said.

He said the next meeting–scheduled for May in Tehran–would essentially be dedicated to discussing ways of dividing the seabed.

The status of the Caspian–which has huge reserves of oil and gas–is still governed by agreemen’s signed by the Soviet Union and Iran in 1921 and 1940.

But after the dismantling of the Soviet Union the newly independent states and Iran took different approaches toward the division of the sea.

The five states have been holding talks since 1996.

Proshin was quoted as saying Turkmen’stan–Azerbaijan and Iran were insisting on dividing both the seabed and the surface into national sectors–while Russia and Kazakhstan proposed dividing only the seabed–leaving the surface free.

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