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Caspian Convention in the Pipeline
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Caspian Convention in the Pipeline

Negotiations of five Caspian states to frame a convention on the legal status of the sea are "90% complete", the deputy foreign minister for Asia-Pacific affairs said.

"The Caspian convention would contain 23 articles. An agreement has been reached over 90% of the terms of the convention," Ebrahim Rahimpour also told ISNA on Saturday.

Rahimpour was part of the team that accompanied Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the latest meeting of the five Caspian littoral states, namely Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, last week in Moscow, the seventh at the ministerial level since the talks got underway in the early 90s following the collapse of the Soviet Union to create a legal regime that would determine their Caspian territorial rights.  

Zarif and his Russian, Azeri, Kazakh and Turkmen counterparts met in the Russian capital to discuss a comprehensive document outlining the duties and rights of the Caspian littoral states, among other issues.

The top diplomats hailed the progress made in the talks, with Zarif describing them as "very good, serious and fruitful".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the five have agreed on "all the outstanding key issues" regarding the sea's legal regime.

"We have completed our almost 20-year work on the convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. This text will be submitted for approval by the heads of our states. We expect that they will support it," Lavrov said.

Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said the agreement reached in Moscow between the foreign ministers can be counted as a breakthrough.

Sounding less positive, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov underlined the "need for maximum efforts to reach a consensus" on all remaining issues related to the Caspian Sea status before the future summit in Kazakhstan.

  Fifth Caspian Summit

The ministerial discussions precede a gathering of the five leaders at the Fifth Caspian Summit in Kazakhstan, which Rahimpour said would convene within months.

"The fifth meeting of the heads of the Caspian Sea littoral states will be held by May [2018] in Kazakhstan," the diplomat said.

Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area and is variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea.

Zarif has said the five countries had agreed that no foreign military will be allowed on the sea and that commercial vessels will fly the flags of all five littoral countries.

Lavrov noted that defense ministries of the five Caspian countries were "positively" interacting with each other and had planned to hold joint drills next summer.

"This year, all the littoral states have exchanged friendly visits by the navies' ships. The Sea Cup 2017 international contest held in summer was a big success," he said.

Teams of the navies of Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan attended the Sea Cup 2017—held within the International Army Games—in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Aug. 1-11.

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