Territorial division of the Caspian Sea remains the key issue for control over natural resources and export routes in the region. A meeting of the five Caspian Basin states; Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan was originally planned for 8-9 March but had to be postponed to allow for further bilateral talks, according to a report by the Eurasianet news service on Monday.
Iran is not content with its proposed share of 14 percent and has advocated for an equal division of resources, which would mean 20 percent per Caspian Basin country. Although Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan are opposed to this, a recent meeting between Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Russian leader Vladimir Putin seems to have convinced the latter to rethink his Caspian position. A joint declaration by Khatami and Putin said that both Iran and Russia would not recognise any Caspian deal unless it had received unanimous approval by all five states. Caspian policy watchers suggest that Russia may agree to increasing Iran's share by an extra 2 percent. Reaching an agreement on territorial control of the Caspian Sea will pave the way for trans-national energy deals, in particular pipelines from Central Asia to the West. Even if an agreement is brokered, relations between Iran and neighbouring Azerbaijan is likely to remain rocky, the report said. [For full report visit www.eurasianet.org]
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