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Azerbaijan Opposes Turkmen Plans For Naval Base

Turkmenbashi city, on Turkmenistan's Caspian coast
BAKU -- Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has expressed support for the "demilitarization" of the Caspian Sea and said it disagrees with Turkmenistan's announcement on August 31 of its plan to build a naval base, according to reports by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani and Turkmen services.

A spokesman for the ministry, Elkhan Polukhov, said Azerbaijan is a "supporter of disarmament, not armament."

Unveiling the base plans, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said the facility would be built at the Caspian port city of Turkmenbashi. He said the naval base was necessary to protect "economic activity" in the Caspian and "to protect the Turkmen people's peaceful life from International terrorist groups."

Turkmenistan recently rekindled a simmering feud with Azerbaijan over the ownership of three oil and gas fields in the middle of the Caspian Sea.

Turkmenistan has accused Azerbaijan of unilateral efforts to develop the fields and threatened to take Baku to international arbitration court.