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Caspian Sea nations leaders meeting

Caspian Sea nations leaders meeting 17.10.2007 President Vladimir Putin became the first Kremlin leader to visit Iran since Stalin.
In a speech at the meeting of the five Caspian littoral states - Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan - Putin said Russia was the only country that had helped Tehran develop its nuclear program.
"We believe that every country has the right to develop peaceful nuclear energy programs," he said, Interfax reported.
In their final declaration, the littoral states acknowledged the rights of all signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - including Iran - to develop peaceful nuclear energy programs.
The states also declared that they would not allow their territories to be used for an attack on any of the others, in an apparent response to speculation that the United States could resort to military force in its dispute with Iran.
Putin reinforced the idea that the Caspian nations should not be used in any attack by a third country, a comment that appeared to be directed at Azerbaijan, which has held talks with U.S. military officials over the situation in Iran.
"We should not even think of making use of force in this region," Putin told the meeting.
While there was unity on the issue of Iran, the countries once again failed to reach a deal on how to divide the Caspian basin, which is believed to contain enormous oil and gas reserves.
The legal status of the sea has been in limbo since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which has led to conflicting claims to seabed deposits.
Another concern for Moscow has been U.S.-backed efforts to build alternative pipelines to deliver Central Asian and Caspian oil and gas to the West, bypassing Russia.
Moscow strongly opposes such plans, and Putin argued in Tehran that they would threaten the environment.
"Projects that may inflict serious environmental damage to the region cannot be implemented without prior discussion by all five Caspian nations," he said.
Putin arrived in Tehran on Tuesday after shrugging off a news report about a suicide plot to kill him during the trip. While his spokespeople had suggested that he might change his plans, Iran steadfastly dismissed the assassination plot reports.
By Staff  

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