Iran officially protested Saturday, July 21, to Azerbaijan over its recent oil contracts with foreign, mainly western companies in the Caspian Sea, which both nations border, Iranian television said.
The deputy Iranian foreign minister, Ali Ahani, summoned the Azeri charge d'affaires in Tehran to inform him of his country's "strong protest," the television added.
"These contracts are null and without legal value and Iran will not allow its (oil) interests in the Caspian to be harmed," said Ahani, who is in charge of the Caspian shores at the foreign ministry.
The Iranian official said that "Azerbaijan bears the responsibility for its irresponsible and illegal actions," the television said.
The Azeri official, who represents his country in the absence of the ambassador, expressed his "concern" over the "situation which has just developed in relations" between the two countries.
Iran often lets it be known that it will not recognize oil exploration contracts and bilateral agreements involving the Caspian, and calls for a definitive regime for the contested inland sea.
Tehran says that only the agreements reached between Iran and the former Soviet Union from 1921 and 1948 are still valid, and that any other arrangement outside those agreements is not acceptable.
The five countries bordering the Caspian—Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan—have not managed to agree on a share-out of the sea's rich gas and oil resources. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
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