Iran “Caspian Sea” envoy in Azerbaijan
Iran's envoy for the Caspian Sea arrived in Azerbaijan on Tuesday for the latest round of talks aimed at teasing out a solution to the row between the two countries over boundaries in the oil-rich sea.
Tehran is claiming a substantial offshore oil prospect, which Azerbaijan insists belongs to it. Their dispute is the biggest obstacle to a broader agreement between the five Caspian nations on the sea's status.
Envoy Mehdi Safari met with Azeri Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev and Khozhbakht Yusufzade, vice president of Azeri state oil company SOCAR, in Baku.
The Iranian envoy "expressed his confidence that positive steps will be taken towards resolving the problem of the Caspian and that positive results will emerge soon," the Azeri foreign ministry stated.
It was expected that Safari would meet with Azeri President Heidar Aliyev on Wednesday, though there was no official confirmation of this.
The row between Baku and Tehran nearly spilled over into military action last summer when an Iranian warship threatened to fire on an Azeri oil research vessel surveying the disputed oil prospect.
After continuous postponements, Aliyev traveled to the Islamic Republic of Iran last month where he held talks with President Mohammed Khatami, however there was no breakthrough, according to AFP.
The two leaders did agree that experts from both sides should continue meeting regularly to try to thrash out some sort of a deal.
The Caspian Sea is thought to hold the world's third biggest oil and gas reserves after Russia and the Gulf but exploration is being held up by the dispute over boundaries.
Meanwhile, a summit of heads of state from the five Caspian states in Turkmenistan in April ended in failure, largely because Azerbaijan and Iran were unable to settle their differences. (albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)