Leaving Seabed Resources Off Caspian Talks Imprudent

Leaving Seabed Resources Off Caspian Talks ImprudentLeaving Seabed Resources Off Caspian Talks Imprudent

A former diplomat questioned the wisdom of a move to leave discussions over the Caspian Sea's seabed resources off the agenda of the ongoing talks between the five littoral states to finalize a convention on the legal status of the sea.

"The convention is a legal regime, one of whose factors must be the situation of resources at the bottom of the water. It is not wise to separate one part, sign the convention and then request further negotiations [on the separated part]," Mehdi Safari, a former Iranian negotiator in the Caspian talks, said in a Saturday interview with ISNA.

Safari was commenting on Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's remarks that demarcation and seabed resources were excluded from recent negotiations between the Caspian Sea littoral states and are subject to separate future agreements.

Asked about the latest ministerial meeting among the five countries in Moscow earlier this month, Zarif said, "A wide range of issues were discussed in the meeting but the points of difference and the two issues of demarcation and seabed and sub-seabed resources were left to be discussed in future talks."

"The meeting was meant to address the convention on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea and was not supposed to cover demarcation and resource shares," Zarif said.

He was responding to domestic accusations that he and his accompanying team failed to properly defend Iran's territorial rights in the ministerial gathering in Moscow, focused on finalizing a convention on the legal status of the sea.

The meeting in Moscow marked the seventh between the five Caspian states, namely Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, 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.

That regime is set to be enshrined in a comprehensive document outlining the duties and rights of the Caspian states, among other issues.

The ministerial discussions are to be followed by a gathering of the five leaders at the Fifth Caspian Summit in Kazakhstan. The five presidents last convened in the Russian port city of Astrakhan in 2014, where they signed an agreement to promote the sustainable use of Caspian Sea and protect its marine life.

Also, key principles of activities in the Caspian Sea were set out in a joint political declaration that outlined the framework of the convention.  

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.


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