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Turkmenistan: Government Protests Russian-Azeri Oil Deal

Ashgabat, 7 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Turkmenistan has issued a strong protest against a $2 billion Caspian Sea oil deal signed last week between Azerbaijan and the Russian oil company Lukoil.

The Turkmen Foreign Ministry is quoted as saying that the agreement in part involves oil-rich zones which are the subject of dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. In a statement carried today by a Turkmen daily, the Foreign Ministry said Turkmenistan is demanding cancellation of the agreement.

The Ministry expressed shock over the conclusion of the deal, and warned the Azeris and the Russians against taking practical action to implement it until the ownership dispute is resolved and the legal status of the Caspian Sea is clarified. The Ministry, as quoted, said it would lodge a formal protest note on the matter.

The deal was signed last Friday between Lukoil and the Azerbaijani State Oil Company SOCAR.