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News // Oil and gas worldwide

Russia & Iran Delay Caspian Decision

13 March 2001 , 07:17365
MOSCOW, Mar 12
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami have signed a joint statement on the disputed status of the oil-rich Caspian Sea, agreeing to delay discussion on the subject.

"Until the legal regime of the Caspian Sea is finalised, the parties do not officially acknowledge any boundaries on this sea," the statement said.

"Any decision and agreements referring to the legal status and use of the Caspian Sea will only have force if they are approved on general consent of the five littoral states," the statement continued.

"The parties openly declare their disagreement to laying any Trans-Caspian oil and natural gas pipeline on the sea bed. That would be dangerous in the environmental sense in conditions of extreme geodesic activity."

Tehran is proposing an equal share-out among the five countries that border the Caspian (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan), a view that Moscow opposes.

A five-nation summit due to have taken place in Turkmenistan on March 8 and 9 was postponed to next month at Iran's request, although officials said the meeting could be delayed further still.

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh said on Friday that Tehran was not willing to wait for an agreement over the sea's legal status before beginning its own exploration work.


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