Russian envoy sternly rebuffs US 'meddling' in Caspian area

Any attempt to base troops in the Caspian region that do not belong to one of the states bordering the Caspian Sea can only lead to the area becoming a source of regionwide tension. This statement was made to journalists by Nikolai Ryabov, Russia's ambassador to Azerbaijan, the Trend agency reported. Ryabov said there was no obvious reason for such a placement of outside troops. It is just something that the United States wants, he said. 'Caspian security problems will be resolved by the countries of the region without meddling by the US, which is trying everything possible to worm into a region that is thousands of kilometers from its borders,' Ryabov said. 'America will have no presence here. We will not allow it,' he asserted.

At the end of November, it may be recalled, the deputy commander of US forces in Europe, Gen. Charles Wald, declared in Baku that the US intended in late January 2004 to begin implementation of a program in Azerbaijan that 'will affect the security of the Caspian region.' The general made clear that the program in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian would create a model for controlling surface and sub-surface traffic, information about which would routinely go to the military leadership, he added.

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