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Iran mindful of Caspian Sea interests

MehdiSafari

Iran says it has yet to reach an agreement with the Caspian Sea littoral states over the “legal regime” of the world’s largest lake, citing the importance of its national interests.

“While taking their national interests into considerations, the Caspian Sea littoral states seek to prepare ground for regional cooperation,” Iran’s special representative for Caspian Sea affairs Mehdi Safari said Saturday.

He pointed to the 26th meeting of the ad-hoc working group of deputy foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea held in Turkmenistan on November 4-5, and said that “these states have made good progress in bridging their differences bringing and their views close in line with each other.”

The Iranian deputy foreign minister added that negotiations are still underway among the Caspian Sea littoral states on “sensitive and complicated” issues.

“Therefore, it is likely that the sides would reach an agreement over such issues in a longer period of time,” he said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will never sacrifice its national interests for speed in reaching agreements,” Safari said.

The Caspian Sea Convention will determine the territorial rights of each country as well as other matters related to the world’s largest landlocked body of water.

Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Kazakhstan have been debating the details of the long-awaited pact since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Caspian Sea legal regime is based on two agreements signed between Iran and former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1921 and 1940. The three new littoral states established after the collapse of the Soviet Union do not recognize the prior treaties, triggering a debate on the future status of the world’s largest lake.

The Caspian Sea is said to contain some 12 percent of the world’s oil reserves as well as huge deposits of natural gas.

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