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    AZERBAIJAN PRESIDENT BACKS IDEA TO DIVIDE CASPIAN INTO SECTORS

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    BAKU, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - Ilkham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, backs the idea to divide the Caspian Sea into sectors between the littoral states. President Aliyev said this in a RIA Novosti interview ahead of his visit to Moscow.

    "This is an honest approach, which is the main thing. We should use the experience we have accumulated in settling this issue," said the Azeri leader.

    The idea to divide the Caspian into 5 equal parts became unrealistic when Russia, the largest country in the Caspian region, turned it down.

    "Russia has never approved of that principle, recalled the president. As of today, Kazakhstan owns 29% of the Caspian's bottom, Azerbaijan - 19% and Russia - 18%." "I believe that the existing agreements between Russia and Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan must form the basis of a comprehensive treaty on the Caspian," said President Aliyev.

    He admitted that Russia and Azerbaijan had had serious differences over the matter.

    "However, we have settled those differences and reached an agreement," he said.

    With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the independent states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan it was necessary to determine the legal status for the Caspian. This issue is being negotiated by the 5 Caspian countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.

    In winter 1998, Russia and Kazakhstan signed a bilateral agreement on the delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian bottom. In 2001, Russia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement to divide the sea into sectors.

    The existing bilateral agreements delimited the bottom along the median line, which was modified according to the equity principle and by mutual agreement.

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