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MOSCOW, September 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the fourth Caspian summit in Astrakhan on Monday that will gather the heads of all the five Caspian littoral states - Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
The Kremlin hopes that the summit will bring about progress in the long negotiation process on the status and delimitation of the Caspian Sea.
The co-ordination of the corresponding convention by the sides has been going on for more than 15 years. Over this period, a number of bilateral agreements on the Caspian delimitation. According to Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, the political statement by the five heads of state, which will be adopted, will “become a cornerstone of a future convention [on the Caspian legal status].”
“The process of the preparation of the convention on the Caspian legal status is close to a breakthrough,” Ushakov said. “And if the work in Astrakhan is a success, it will pave the way for its [convention] signing at the next summit that will be held in Kazakhstan.”
The Kremlin official said certain results have been achieved in the statement preparation, in particular, on the sea area delimitation. According to him, two zones will be fixed - the state sovereignty zone and the zone with exclusive fishery rights; the size of these zones will be 25 nautical miles.
The issue of the base lines for the zoning remains unsettled. Iran, in contradiction with other Caspian littoral states, proposes to accept the width of the former unspoken Soviet-Iranian sea border.
“The statement draft must necessarily contain the clause on the exclusion of the presence of armed forces of non-regional states in the Caspian,” Ushakov said.
And the discussion of the issue of the regime of trans-Caspian pipelines will be continued, as no consensus has been found on it so far. One more issue deals with hydrocarbons’ recovery in the Caspian.
The summit agenda also envisages the discussion of key areas of interaction in the spheres of security, economy, transport and ecology, as well as international issues. It is planned to sign three intergovernmental agreements - on co-operation in coping with emergencies, in hydrometeorology issues and in the preservation of the Caspian aquatic bio-resources.
The Caspian five leaders will begin a meeting in a narrow format. “They will discuss the most sensitive issues on the agenda: the Caspian legal status and military component of the security issue,” Ushakov said.
Then the sides will have expanded negotiations, after which they will sign joint documents and make a statement for the press. In the programme’s informal part, the leaders will walk on the Volga River bank and take part in a symbolic release of sturgeon young fishes.
In addition to the five-sided summit participation, Putin will hold separate meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev.
The first Caspian summit was held in Ashgabat in 2002, the second - in five years in Tehran and the third - in Baku in November 2010. After Astrakhan, the summit will be held in Kazakhstan.
The Caspian Sea is a unique water body from the viewpoint of biological resources and the ecological environment. The sea’s natural resources comprise more than 500 species of plants and 854 fish species, of which 30 belong to commercial fishery stock, the sea also contains about 90% of the world’s sturgeon stock.
The sea’s anticipated hydrocarbon reserves are estimated at 18 billion tonnes of fuel equivalent (proven reserves - up to 4 billion tonnes). The Caspian Sea is second in terms of the oil and natural gas reserves after the Persian Gulf. The main spheres of economic development and co-operation in the Caspian are extraction of commercial minerals, navigation and fisheries.
From Astrakhan Putin will travel to the city of Atyrau, Kazakhstan where the 11th interregional forum of Russia and Kazakhstan will be held on September 30. 0ezh
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