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    AD HOC TEAM FAILS TO SETTLE CASPIAN PIPELINE DIFFERENCES

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    BAKU, MARCH 17 (RIA Novosti correspondents Pyotr Goncharov and Gerai Dadashev) - An ad hoc team for the Caspian issue met in session in the Azeri capital today.

    The conferees failed to come to an accord on one of the basic Caspian Convention points - prospects to lay sea bottom pipelines, says Viktor Kalyuzhny, Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and special presidential envoy for the Caspian issue.

    Pipeline project implementation requires an accord between all the five littoral countries, says a formulation Russia called to add to the convention on the Caspian legal status. It was voted down. Iran alone sided with Russia, while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan said no. Russia is not disconcerted with the setback, and will further insist on its initiative, said Mr. Kalyuzhny.

    "The Caspian is a unique water reservoir, and whatever man-caused accident there may bring a huge disaster. Russia has always been stressing the point. Meanwhile, none of the Caspian countries has sufficient technical opportunities to cope with whatever emergency single-handed," he stressed.

    Azerbaijan will proceed from its own sovereign rights in the pipeline issue, emphasized Halaf Halafov, its Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who represents his country on the team. "A lack of accord over the Convention is not to put barriers on the road of each littoral country as it seeks to implement its sovereign rights," he said. Kazakh and Turkmen representatives backed this position.

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