27 July AFP

Tehran ready to resolve Caspian row with Baku

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- Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said Thursday his country was "ready to pursue dialogue" with Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea issue, following tension this week between the two countries, radio reported.

Quoted by the radio, Kharazi reiterated that Iran "wants a legitmate solution between the neighbouring countries."

"Iran is determined to defend its interests in the Caspian Sea, on the basis of agreements reached with the former Soviet Union," the Iranian foreign minister added.

Kharazi added that Iran remains "ready to pursue negotiations with Baku over that country's interests in the Caspian Sea."

Iran protested to Azerbaijan last Saturday over recent foreign contracts for offshore oil exploration work split between the two countries.

Tehran considers that the exploration contracts and the bilateral deals over the Caspian Sea are not valid, and is calling for a legal protocol to be established between the five countries bordering the sea -- Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

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