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Russia, Iran, and Kazakhstan intend to restore monitoring of the biological balance of the Caspian Sea, Alexander Bedritsky, Chief of Russia's Roshydromet Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Monitoring of the Environment, said this week.

Bedritsky, while summing up the results of the 7th session of the five Caspian countries' coordinating committee on hydrometeorology and sea pollution monitoring (CASPCOM) said the government of Turkmenistan had already taken a decision on the matter, which is also to be considered by Azerbaijan. Bedritsky believes that "an agreement to this effect will be signed " at CASPCOM's next session next year.

No comprehensive study of the sea environment and its coastal zone have been carried out since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, in another development, the Asian Development Bank (ABD) has discussed opening an office in Turkmenistan, following negotiations with officials in the capital, Ashkhabad. The possibility of cooperation from the ADB regarding the Trans-Afghan pipeline project was discussed.

Under the agreement, oil and gas is to be piped from the southern Daulatabad fields of Turkmenistan across 764 km of Afghan territory, subsequently linking up with Pakistan’s gas grid and onward to the Indian Ocean. The pipeline, with a capacity of 15 to 30 billion cubic metres of gas a year, is expected to cost between US $2 and US $2.5 billion - if not more.

Two Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, said this week that they had resolved a controversial border dispute, which earlier this year had prompted one Kazakh village to declare independence.

"Today we have resolved the issue of the Kazakh-Uzbek border, which stretches 2,400 km," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. The problem was inherited by Central Asian countries after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

However, the move left a few people unhappy, who telephoned media organisations to register their dissatisfaction with the border agreement.

Meanwhile, various UN offices are busy in Kyrgyzstan preparing for a 24-hour visit of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on 18 October. Annan will be visiting the country as part of his tour of several Central Asian states. He will officially inaugurate the UN house in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

Bishkek will also hold a World Mountain Summit on October 29 in which representatives from about 100 countries will participate, Olga Grebennikova told IRIN from the Kyrgyz capital. The UN will launch the National Human Development Report for the country at the time. The main focus of the report is on the people living in high mountain areas of the country, Grebennikova added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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