Iran reminded Russia and its neighbours around the Caspian Sea Thursday that it wants to be consulted on the sharing of the sea's resources and stressed that the agreements drawn up between Iran and the former Soviet Union still applied.
"A new set of rules for the Caspian must take into account the current arrangements, but for now only the 1921 and 1940 agreements (between Iran and the Soviet Union) apply, and no other arrangement outside those agreements is acceptable," said the official IRNA news agency, quoting "an informed source" at the foreign ministry.
This statement follows Tuesday's signing by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heydar Aliyev of a document concerning the status of the Caspian Sea.
Putin and Aliyev, whose former Soviet republic is believed to sit atop billions of dollars of potential oil reserves in its offshore sector, signed an agreement hailed by the Azeri leader as an "extremely important" step towards a general accord on the sea.
The deal allows for the delineation of the Caspian sea bed, but not the waters, between the two countries.
A line is to be drawn from an agreed point in the sea's center to the Azeri-Russian border on the shoreline.
Thursday's statement from IRNA said: "Any agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea must be reached with the consent of all the countries bordering on the sea."
The five countries surrounding the Caspian Sea -- Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran -- have so far failed to agree on a share-out of the sea and its oil and gas reserves.
Iran wants the five countries to decide "unanimously" on any future arrangement, and on November 12 reiterated its plan for an "equitable" share of its resources.
In the past, Iran has accused Azerbaijan of being too friendly to the United States and Israel because of its success in securing a number of major energy contracts with foreign firms since the breakup of the Soviet Union.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )