18 August AP

Developing nations to open economic conference in Tehran on Sunday


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The Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi stressed the need to prevent the militarization of the Caspian Sea, and hoped the sea would be characterized among the littoral states as 'the sea of peace and friendship', IRNA reports.

Kharrazi, who was speaking on the sidelines of the open session of the Majlis, was commenting on the upcoming trip to Azerbaijan of the Turkish ground forces commander and Ankara's provocative moves in the Caspian Sea.

The Iranian Foreign Minister said the sea belongs to all littoral states and reiterated that all its energy reserves should be exploited equitably by all countries with a coastline on the sea. The independent Baku-based Azerpress news agency reported Friday that a squadron of Turkish F-16 warplanes will arrive in Azerbaijan next week to put up a 'show of support and solidarity for Azerbaijan in face of foreign threats', concurrent with the visit of the Turkish Ground Forces Commander General Huseyin Kivrikoglu to the Azeri capital.

Iran and Azerbaijan came to a standoff last month when an Iranian warship fired warning shots towards an Azeri oil research vessel in the disputed waters of the Caspian Sea.

Relations between the two countries exacerbated when Baku reported that an Iranian air force reconnaissance plane had violated its airspace. Iran immediately denied the claims saying the plane was on a regular patrol of the country's air and sea borders.

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