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    BAKU, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - At negotiations in Baku, half of the articles of the Convention on the Caspian Sea have been agreed on, Viktor Kalyuzhny, the leader of the Russian delegation at the session of the working group on the Caspian Sea, said on Wednesday.

    "Of the 22 articles of the convention, 11 have been fully agreed upon," he said.

    "There are many unsolved issues in the remaining articles, and the delegations take a time out to coordinate positions with their leaders," Mr. Kalyuzhny added.

    Sources told RIA Novosti that at today's session the sides discussed the possibility of laying the oil and gas pipelines along the bottom of the Caspian Sea.

    Russia proposed that such projects be realized on the basis of consensus rather than unilaterally or bilaterally.

    Only Iran supported the proposal; the vote was 2-3 against Russia.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Kalyuzhny said that the opinion that the main source of problems was how to divide the Caspian Sea was erroneous.

    According to him, this issue is "certainly vitally important for the newly created states in the context of developing power engineering. However, the social aspect of Caspian Sea problems, including ecology and preservation of bio-resources is no less important."

    Mr. Kalyuzhny also pointed out that special attention should be paid to regional security issues, and, above all, to threats connected with terrorism and the drug business.

    Experts from all five Caspian states - Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - took part in the talks.

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