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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Niyazov Blasts Caspian Deal

TEHRAN, Iran -- The visiting president of Turkmenistan on Wednesday criticized a Russia-Kazakhstan deal to carve up among themselves part of the oil-rich Caspian seabed.

"The seabed and the waters of the sea cannot be divided on a bilateral basis,'' President Separmurat Niyazov said at a joint news conference with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Under the agreement reached Monday, Russia and Kazakhstan plan to divide the northern part of the Caspian seabed into separate Russian and Kazakh sectors.

Iran and Turkmenistan say that the riches of the Caspian Sea, one of the world's most promising sources of oil and gas, should be divided equally among the countries bordering it.

"The sea belongs to all the countries of the region, and it should be a sea of peace and friendship, with a single legal regime governing its surface and seabed,'' Khatami said.

In a statement Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry said that "any bilateral agreement contrary to the existing legal regime of the Caspian Sea has no credibility, and Iran will not recognize it.''

Niyazov said the Russia-Kazakhstan agreement will in no way help resolve the dispute that involves the four countries and Azerbaijan.

Niyazov, who ended a three-day visit to Tehran on Wednesday, also signed a joint statement with Khatami calling for a consensus on all decisions relating to the Caspian Sea by the countries bordering it, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.