Russia's foreign minister says the littoral states of the Caspian Sea are coordinating many "principles" aimed at establishing the basis of a treaty on the sea's legal status.
Sergei Lavrov said, however, that the treaty will not be ready in time for a summit of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan in the Russian city of Astrakhan in the fall.
Lavrov was speaking after a meeting of Caspian foreign ministers on April 22 in Moscow.
The five countries have long been unable to agree on the division of the sea's valuable resources.
If the Caspian is officially declared a sea, then the littoral states would have to divide it into sectors, in which each country controls the oil and natural gas on its territory.
But if it's decided that the Caspian is a lake, then gas and oil resources must be divided equally among the five countries.
Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax