An agreement on the division of the Caspian Sea and its resources continues to elude the five Caspian littoral countries -- Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
The latest round of talks among their representatives, held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on January 28-29, 2005, failed to achieve any breakthrough. A neutral statement at the end of the meeting merely said the talks will continue at the next session in Tehran, Iran. Some media reports, however, said the deliberations eased tensions between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
After the fall of the erstwhile Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the number of countries bordering the Caspian Sea increased from two (Iran and Soviet Union) to five and placed a question mark over the earlier agreements on the use of the sea. Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan have managed bilateral and trilateral agreements based on the principle of dividing the seabed into national sectors, while allowing common use of the water and the sea surface. This method theoretically enables each of them to extract hydrocarbon resources under the sea. These three countries suggest the five of them should divide the sea along a median line. But Iran and Turkmenistan reject the proposal.
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