Senior Russian and Iranian negotiators called on the presidents of the five lateral Caspian Sea states on Wednesday, November 14 to meet hold a summit that could resolve the prickly dispute over the region's oil reserves.
The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that Iran's visiting special envoy for the Caspian Sea Mehdi Safari and his counterpart in Moscow Viktor Kolyuzhny had agreed to speed up the dialogue over the decade-long dispute. The two negotiators "noted the especially important role in this process that the heads of the Caspian states must play in solving the dispute," the ministry statement said.
Safari left Moscow on Tuesday without making any public comments after holding his talks with Kalyuzhny on Monday, and the Russian ministry statement made no mention about a potential date for a presidential summit, nor where it might be held.
The closed-door talks in Moscow represented the latest attempt at settling a dispute over the divide of oil drilling rights in the Caspian Sea, which saw an Iranian warship in July threaten to open fire on an Azeri oil research vessel in a maritime sector claimed by both sides.
Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia have been unable to agree on how to share the Caspian's wealth since the collapse of the Soviet Union 10 years ago. Iran and Turkmenistan believe the Caspian Sea should be carved out into five equal portions, while Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan want the division to be made proportional to the length of each country's shoreline, reducing Iran's stake.
Failure to resolve the issue has hindered development of the region, thought to hold 200 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of gas. — (AFP, Moscow)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )