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Iran Proposes Caspian Security Agreement

30 January 2005 -- A meeting in Ashgabat to pave the way for a deal on the division of the energy-rich Caspian Sea ended yesterday without signs of significant progress.

The legal status of the Caspian, which is believed to contain the third-largest energy reserves in the world, has been in limbo since the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Talks on its division between shoreline nations Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan have dragged on for years.

Iran yesterday offered a draft agreement designed to build trust among the Caspian Sea nations and strengthen security on the inland sea.

Mehdi Safari, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official who was Tehran's representative at the talks, did not discuss the content of the proposal.

Iran insists that each coastal nation receive 20 percent of the sea.

Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan want to divide the seabed along territorial lines, which would leave Iran with less than 15 percent.