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    RUSSIA OPPOSES CASPIAN DEMILITARISATION

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    MOSCOW, April 5, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is opposed to the immediate demilitarisation of the Caspian Sea, Viktor Kalyuzhny, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and the president's envoy for the Caspian, said on Monday.

    Russia is, above all, interested in striking basic agreements on preserving the forces, which are currently deployed in the region, rather than in the immediate demilitarisation of the region, said Mr Kalyuzhny.

    The demilitarisation problem is linked to defining the water borders between the littoral countries.

    Demilitarisation is impossible as the water borders that will appear in the Caspian will have to be guarded, according to Mr Kalyuzhny.

    The Russian envoy believes designating state borders in the Caspian's waters runs counter to the free navigation principle, which the littoral countries are discussing at the moment. Russia, therefore, advocates a scheme of joint control of the Caspian which will help resolve the above problems.

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