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Caspian: Russia, Azerbaijan Sign Bilateral Deal

Moscow, 23 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan signed an accord in Moscow today demarcating their common border in the oil-rich Caspian Sea. Vladimir Putin and Heidar Aliyev hailed the accord, with Aliyev saying it is of "great importance."

The five countries with coastlines on the Caspian -- Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia -- have so far failed to agree on delimiting the sea.

Ahead of today's deal, Iran repeated its opposition to any such bilateral accords. Backed by Turkmenistan, Iran insists the five countries should each have an equal 20 percent of the seabed. But Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, whose Caspian coastlines are longer, want the sea divided into portions based on the length of the shoreline.