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Five Caspian Sea states sign pact

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev shake hands at the 5th Caspian Summit in Aktau Sputnik/AFP / Alexey NIKOLSKY

AKTAI (Xinhua) – Five Caspian Sea states have signed an agreement for collective use of the sea after over two decades of negotiations, the Kremlin said.

The presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan inked the landmark convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea at the Fifth Caspian Summit in the Kazakh city of Aktau on Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the document “fixes the exclusive right and responsibility of our states for the fate of the Caspian Sea and establishes clear rules for its collective use.”

It regulates access to the surface of the sea and other matters including fishing, pipeline construction and environmental issues, Sputnik news agency reported.

Work on the convention began in 1996, with the foreign ministers of the five states reaching consensus on its draft in Moscow in 2017. The agreement comes after close to 30 years of haggling over the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

A compromise by Turkmenistan over how its maritime border with Azerbaijan is determined appears to be the breakthrough that made finalization of the pact possible.

The agreement also appears to remove the ability of Russia or Iran to block the development of a pipeline to transit Turkmen gas across the Caspian to Azerbaijan and possibly on to Europe.

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