Working group on Caspian status to hold session

An extraordinary session of the working group on the Caspian at the level of foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is being prepared in Ashgabat. The informed sources reported that the session should finally agree the key documents to be submitted to the summit scheduled for April 23-24 in the capital of Turkmenistan. According to the source, the final document tentatively called Declaration will be prepared. At the same time, the interlocutor stressed that it would be a great mistake to regard this document on the Caspian status as final since this includes exchange of opinions on a wide range of issues - international, common, regional, and on the sea status included. "We proceed from the fact that the summit will bring the sides closer to settling the issue on the sea status and give clear instructions on holding further negotiations on the problem," the source noted. The legal status of the Caspian Sea is currently regulated by the Soviet-Iranian treaties of 1921 and 1940 which formally stipulated common use of the sea bed and water area by the two countries. After the disintegration of the USSR and increase in the number of Caspian states an objective necessity in renewing the treaties arises, first of all, in part of using mineral and biological resources of the Caspian. Defining the new status in compliance with international standards is only possible on the basis of consensus between all the five Caspian states, which have different stances on the issue so far.

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