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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkmens Plan to Host Caspian Summit

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan- Turkmenistan is keen to host a summit of countries with coastlines on the Caspian Sea to resolve the legal status of the inland body of water, a government official said Wednesday.

"A Caspian summit may take place, at the initiative of our president, in the town of Turkmenbashi at the end of February or the beginning of March. The heads of Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran have already approved the proposal," the official said.

Kazakhstan is the other Caspian littoral state.

The main aim of the meeting would be to reach an internationally acceptable definition of how the waters, and the reserves, of the Caspian should be divided between the surrounding countries.

The Caspian has vast reserves of oil and natural gas, but some of the coastal states have differing ideas of how these should be partitioned up.

The issue has been simmering since the break up of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, when there were only two countries involved -- the Soviet Union itself and Iran. These two reached an agreement on the division in 1970.

The emergence of three new independent states in the region has complicated the negotiations.

The official said a meeting of Caspian deputy foreign ministers was scheduled for February in Tehran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azeri opposite number, Heydar Aliyev, signed an agreement on principles of cooperation in Baku during an official visit by Putin Tuesday.