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Zarif to Brief Lawmakers on Caspian Consensus

Zarif to Brief Lawmakers on Caspian Consensus  Zarif to Brief Lawmakers on Caspian Consensus

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will go to the Majlis on August 21 to shed light on the convention signed this week by Iran and four ex-Soviet nations on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, a lawmaker said.

"Due to the sensitivity of the issue and the recent related discussions surrounding it, we have invited Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend a meeting of the parliament's commission [of National Security and Foreign Policy] and provide some explanation," Ali Najafi-Khoshroodi, the spokesperson for the commission, told IRNA on Tuesday.

The minister will also answer lawmakers' questions about foreign policy, he said.

  Long-Running Dispute

Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan agreed in principle in Aktau, Kazakhstan, on Sunday how to divide up the potentially huge oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea, paving the way for more energy exploration and pipeline projects.

However, the delimitation of the seabed, which is seemingly at the center of the dispute, will require additional agreements between littoral nations.

For almost three decades, the five littoral states have argued over how to divide the world's biggest enclosed body of water.

The dispute began soon after the Soviet Union was consigned to history in 1991.

  Unfounded Claims

The Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi on Monday rejected claims that Iran had given up its right to ownership of the Caspian in early negotiations over the sea's legal status in 1996.

In a weekend interview with the BBC Persian TV, Rajab Safarov, a member of the Contemporary Iranian Studies Centre in Moscow, said that Tehran, to the surprise of other littoral states, had suggested that the sea be divided equally, while others were “psychologically ready” to acknowledge the country’s right to half of the sea based on previous agreements.

Speaking to Tasnim News Agency, Qasemi said the allegations “have no basis in fact” and have been made to advance the objectives of anti-Iran groups.

"Records show that this person has never been a negotiator in Russia's negotiating team in talks with the Iranian delegation. His comments and claims are undoubtedly invalid," he said, adding that it is part of a scenario being pursued by some quarters with clear agendas. He did not name any group, individual and country.

Qasemi had said on Sunday that the convention does not deal with delimitation of maritime boundaries or issue related to the seabed.

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