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    MOSCOW, JANUARY 29, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI). The 17th round of the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations on the delimitation of the Azov-Kerch water area will be held in Moscow on January 29-30.

    The Russian foreign ministry told RIA Novosti that deputy foreign minister Viktor Kalyuzhny will represent Russia at the negotiations, and Ukraine will be represented by its deputy foreign minister Alexander Motsik.

    "The expert group will discuss whether the delimitation line will go at the bottom or on the surface of the Azov-Kerch water area, and coordinate the sides' stances," RIA Novosti was told at the Ukrainian embassy in Russia.

    The previous round of negotiations on the delimitation of the Azov-Kerch water area took place on December 4, 2003 in Kiev.

    The complexity of the negotiating process is that Ukraine and Russia have various approaches to the issue under discussion.

    Russia insists that only the bottom of the Azov Sea with all the mineral resources of the shelf should be divided, while the two countries should jointly use the water area with its bioresources. Ukraine, on its part, comes out for the delimitation of the bottom and the division of the water area into internal waters of Ukraine and Russia.

    The Ukrainian-Russian negotiations on the status of the Azov Sea are being held for more than seven years now but to no avail. In January 2003, the two countries signed an agreement on land borders, while the issue of the sea borders was not solved.

    Viktor Kalyzhny declared in Moscow on December 2 that the Russian foreign ministry prepared a draft treaty on the settlement of the status of the Azov-Kerch water area.

    He stressed that Ukraine and Russia will reach accord only by way of package settlement, i.e., by solving the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait border issue simultaneously and not separately.

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