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    FIVE-SIDED WORKING GROUP ON CASPIAN CANNOT OVERCOME PRINCIPLED DIFFERENCES

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    BAKU, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Members of the working group for the development of a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea preserve differences on conceptual questions, Khalaf Khalafov, deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, told journalists.

    He said that the group has coordinated some clauses of the draft convention and agreed upon continuing work on it at the next session. Particularly, the sides have reached agreement on some questions of merchant shipping, a mechanism for settling differences, different directions of cooperation.

    Russian chief delegate Victor Kalyuzhny, special presidential envoy for the Caspian, noted that the Russian side has proposed to hold a meeting between Caspian foreign ministers in Moscow on April 6.

    All the participants in the session have approved this proposal, Mr. Kalyuzhny said.

    "I would like the summit meeting of the five Caspian states, held in spring of 2003 in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashkhabad, to be continued. We, participants in the working group, hope that its holding will be coordinated at that foreign ministerial meeting in Moscow", Mr. Kalyuzhny said.

    He noted that, in the conferees' opinion, "such meeting would speed up formation of the legal environment in the Caspian region and coordination of the Caspian legal status convention."

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