Caspian dispute priority despite change in White House
The Caspian dispute will most likely remain an important issue despite the change in US administration, Russia's top diplomat in charge of Russia's Caspian policies said Monday.
"I think that the issue of Caspian economy would be a priority, whatever administration came to power in the United States," Russia's deputy foreign minister Victor Kalyuzhny said as quoted by the Interfax news agency.
However, Kalyuzhny stressed that it should be the Caspian states -- Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan -- who would decide the legal status of the Caspian Sea.
"These countries have sufficient intelligence, will and political maturity to resolve the Caspian problem," the diplomat said, adding that "no outsider can solve this issue."
"For example, the US said there are three options of resolving the Caspian's legal status, but I have not seen one of them," he said.
The Caspian Sea's hydrocarbon resources, considered the world's richest after those of the Persian Gulf and Siberia, are the object of fierce rivalry between the five states.
The division of the Caspian's waters has never been formally clarified, with the result that the rival nations continue to dispute the share-out and exploitation of its natural resources.
Kalyuzhny noted that the positions of Russia and Azerbaijan have moved closer, adding that Moscow and Baku "have agreed to resolve the dispute by consensus and begin with the demarcation of the sea bed."
"If the participants state their position clearly and try to see eye to eye with each other, we would make confident progress in resolving the Caspian problem," he said.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)