Negotiations on the legal status of the Caspian Sea are underway and in particular the position of the coastal countries has become clearer, but the differences have not yet been resolved, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in the State Duma on Friday, RIA Novosti reported.
Mr. Ryabkov made a report on ratification of an agreement on security cooperation in the Caspian Sea. While discussing the document, parliamentarians asked how soon the negotiations on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will take and at what stage they are at currently.
Mr. Ryabkov stressed that the issue of the legal status of the Caspian Sea is quite complicated given that it was regulated throughout the history of our country only by Soviet-Iranian treaties.
"The positions of the parties become closer, but the differences have not been resolved yet," the deputy minister said.
He said that there is a separate negotiation format. "We did not insist on linking the explanation of the legal status of the Caspian Sea with the conclusion of this agreement," he said.
Mr. Ryabkov stressed that the agreement is important. The lack of a final agreement on the legal status which is pending, must not prevent cooperation to resolve the security challenges.
The agreement on security cooperation in the Caspian Sea creates the legal basis for the cooperation of special services and law enforcement agencies of the participating countries in such areas as combating terrorism, organised crime, smuggling, human trafficking and illegal migration.
The parties also intend to cooperate in combating illicit trafficking in arms and military equipment, explosives and poisonous substances, drug trafficking and money laundering obtained as a result of crime.
The agreement also provides for cooperation in ensuring the safety of maritime, navigation, and combating piracy and poaching.
The coastal countries signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea in November 2003.
The Iranian city of Rasht in the Gilan province hosted the first conference on Caspian Sea status on Oct 8.
The meeting was attended by the Iranian Foreign Minister, members of the committee on foreign policy, the national security of the Iranian Parliament and officials of various ministries.