Differences Narrowing among Caspian States, Iran’s FM Says

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Kazakhstan for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral states, said the Caspian countries have reached a consensus on many topics, but noted that a number of issues still remain to be settled.

It would be relatively optimistic to think that participants in the Astana meeting will be able to resolve the outstanding issues and reach a conclusion, Zarif told reporters upon his arrival in the Kazakh capital on Tuesday.

Though the differences have been widely narrowed, there still exist issues that need to discussed and settled, he added.

As regards the common grounds, Zarif said the Caspian littoral countries have developed good cooperation to conserve the environment and protect the flora and fauna of the lake, adding that there is also a consensus that Caspian Sea should remain the “sea of peace and friendship” without the presence of outsiders.

Accompanied by a high-ranking delegation, including legal and political experts, Zarif is joining his counterparts from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia for talks on the legal status of the lake.

Two days ago, a special working group from Iran arrived in Astana to participate in the expert-level talks ahead of the ministerial meeting.

The working group’s sessions were part of efforts to draft the convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

The 45th meeting of the special working group of the Caspian Sea concluded in Russia’s capital of Moscow on June 10 with a communiqué.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed water body on earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.

The Caspian Sea Convention will determine the territorial rights of littoral states as well as other matters related to the world’s largest landlocked body of water.

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