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News number: 8808131471

16:57 | 2009-11-04

Foriegn Policy

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Littoral States Start Discussions on Caspian Sea Legal Regime

TEHRAN (FNA)- Special workgroups and representatives from the Caspian Sea littoral states started a new round of talks in Turkmenistan on Wednesday to decide on the legal status of the world's largest lake, an Iranian diplomat announced on Wednesday.

The political attaché of the Iranian embassy in Ashgabat told FNA that during the two-day meeting, the delegations of the Caspian Sea littoral states are slated to discuss a draft convention on the legal status of the lake.

The draft convention will cover principles for activities and cooperation among the littoral states, the diplomat added.

He further noted that the participants are scheduled to issue a statement about the results of their discussions at the end of the meeting.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs and the country's special Envoy in the Caspian Sea Affairs Mehdi Safari who heads an 8-member delegation arrived in Ashgabat on Tuesday evening.

Earlier, Iranian Ambassador to Turkmenistan Mohammad Reza Forqani told FNA on Tuesday, "The meeting of the special workgroup to discuss the Caspian Sea's legal regime will begin at the level of the deputy foreign ministers of the five Caspian Sea littoral states in Ashgabat on Wednesday and will last for two days."

The status of the oil and gas rich inland sea has been a source of disagreement among the littoral states since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Caspian Sea is estimated to contain between 17 billion and 33 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

Following Iran's protests at a meeting of several Caspian littoral states in the Kazakh city of Aktau last month, the participating leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan declared that they had decided to avoid discussions on the Caspian matters without Iran's presence at their meeting in a bid to comply with earlier agreements.