A meeting of presidents of Caspian sea states has been postponed for a second time amid expectations it would bring little progress on how to divide the regions vast oil and gas wealth, local media reported Monday, April 9.
The Neutralny Turkmenistan newspaper reported that the summit of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan, which was scheduled to take place April 14 to 15, had been put back until the autumn.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurat Niyazov, agreed during a telephone conversation on the need to "extend the preparation period for the summit so that it can be held in the autumn and bring more weighty results," the newspaper reported.
The move comes after Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were unable to agree on the status of the Caspian sea during Khatamis visit to Russia last month.
Many analysts believe that the two countries may wish to use a prolonged disagreement over the Caspian's legal status as a tactic to prevent the construction of US-backed oil and gas pipelines under the sea.
The US-backed routes to transport Caspian oil and gas to world markets would bypass both Iran and Russia, who would lose out on lucrative transport tariffs, and would boost Washington's influence in the region.
The status of the Caspian sea remains in dispute 10 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to some estimates, the sea could contain 200 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet (18 trillion cubic meters) of gas reserves. — (AFP, Ashkhabad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)