Russian foreign minister intends to ban military presence in Caspian Sea

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday called for a ban on any outside military presence in the resource-rich Caspian Sea , which it shares with Azerbaijan , Kazakhstan , Turkmenistan and Iran . " Russia stands against the military presence of any third side on the Caspian," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

He said that "non-regional powers" had attempted to penetrate the Caspian "with not at all clear goals," ITAR-Tass reported, without elaborating on just what powers Lavrov had in mind. However, Azerbaijan has cooperated actively with both the United States military and NATO.

"Experience shows that it is easy to invite the military but difficult to get them to leave," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency at a working group meeting on the sea's legal status. Lavrov said that negotiations remained hung up on the delimitation of national borders in the sea, regulations on laying of pipelines and rules on military activities, Interfax reported. Iran has insisted that each of the five coastal states get an equal portion of the seabed, while most other countries want the division based on shoreline, which would give Iran a smaller share.

Lavrov alluded to Russia 's proposal for all five Caspian Sea nations to form a joint naval force. The other nations have previously responded cautiously to the proposal, with Azerbaijan saying earlier this year it was not prepared to participate in such a structure until the states agree on how to apportion the seabed, which is believed to hold the world's third-largest oil reserves, reports the AP.

N.U.