IRAN: Caspian Sea states shut Tehran out of summit
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Iran is peeved at its northern neighbors over a decision to exclude the Islamic Republic from a meeting of Caspian Sea states on Thursday.
Iran’s top diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, said today he was outraged that Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan plan to meet in the Kazakh city of Aktau without Iran, according to the website of Iran’s state-owned English-language Press TV satellite news channel.
‘In our view the meeting runs contrary to Iran’s national interests,’ Mottaki said.
Iran has stewed for years as Russia and its former Soviet satellite states gobble up more and more of the Caspian Sea’s resources.
The four countries attending the Aktau meeting, described as an ‘informal’ summit to discuss ‘subregional cooperation,’ say they don’t plan to make any decisions on the status of the sea or the division of the seabed, an official representative of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry told Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency.
But to Iranians, it looks like another attempt to chip away at Iran’s claims to the sea’s riches, which include gas and oil reserves as well as marine life.
Of the Caspian states, only Russia and Iran have the seaports to export the sea’s natural gas.
‘The summit is against previous agreements, in which the five Caspian littoral states came to the understanding that any decision on the waterway should be made with the participation of all its neighboring countries,’ he said in a comment during a meeting with Kazakhstan’s new envoy to Tehran.
Iranians worry the Moscow is trying to get the other three Caspian states to gang up on Tehran, cutting it out of future pipeline projects.
-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut