BAKU, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - A meeting of foreign ministers of all of the countries that border the Caspian will be convened later this month in Moscow to discuss common issues related to world's largest inland sea, according to Azerbaijan's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Halaf Halafov.
"These documents will be discussed at the upcoming summit of foreign ministers of Caspian bordering countries on April 22 in Moscow," said Halafov.
The announcement came while a meeting of the Special Working Party of the countries was ongoing in Turkmenistan. "We have disputes over some unresolved issues. The summit will take place in the first part of this year. The exact date will be negotiated through diplomatic channels," Halafov was quoted as saying.
Responding to a question about the unresolved issues on the Caspian's legal status, Halafov said that "so far the following problems stand out: the specification of the sovereign zone of the water table, borders, fishing and research areas, security matters as well as the conservation of ecological and biological resources."
The Caspian Sea is often referred to as the boundary point between Europe and Asia. It is extremely rich in natural resources - according to estimates about 18 billion tonnes of hydrocarbons are contained in its seabed, which is comparable to the deposits in the Persian Gulf. The sea's biological resources are also rich; about 80 percent of the world's sturgeon catch comes from the Caspian.
During the Soviet period, the sea was shared between the Soviet Union and Iran, but after the collapse of the USSR, the independent states that emerged - Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan - also wanted a slice of the pie. In recent years, Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have found a compromise and reached agreements which say the seabed is to be divided into sectors, and the water mass is to be commonly shared.