Putin, Rohani emphasize mutual cooperation in Syria

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Astana, Aug 13 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, on Sunday emphasized the cooperation between their two countries in the fight against terrorism in Syria during their bilateral meeting within the framework of the 5th Caspian Summit being held in the Kazakh city of Aktau.

“We have a large volume of cooperation, on many questions regarding the Caspian and about the handling of acute crises, including the Syrian crisis,” Efe quoted Putin as saying at the start of the meeting.

The Kremlin chief said that the Syrian crisis would be the central issue to be discussed by him and Rohani, the meeting taking place after the historic signing of the convention on the legal status of the world’s largest lake by the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan – the five countries that share the Caspian Sea.

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“I want to inform you about the progress of the contacts with our partners to deal with this complex matter,” Putin told Rohani, referring to the negotiations that Moscow wants to launch with Turkey and other countries to find a definitive solution to the Syrian crisis.

In turn, Rohani emphasized that the victories of the Syrian army over the Islamic State and other jihadist groups operating in Syria have been made possible thanks to cooperation between Russia and Iran.

“The whole world is a witness to how, with Iran and Russia’s help, the Syrian army has been able to play an important role in the fight against terrorism in … its country,” the Iranian leader said.

Russia and Iran both have the objective, he said, of “ensuring stability and peace in the entire region”.

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Shortly before the meeting, during his speech at the Caspian Summit, the Iranian president emphasized that the other four countries of the region were going to defend the nuclear pact Tehran signed with six world powers but from which the US has now withdrawn.

The convention signed in Aktau on the legal status of the Caspian Sea is the result of 22 years of arduous negotiations.

The largest lake in the world with an area of 370,886 sq. kilometers (143,200 sq. miles), is to be divided into territorial waters (not exceeding 15 nautical miles in width), exclusive areas for fishing (10 nautical miles in width) and waters for common use, as established in the convention’s text.

The Caspian was shared by Moscow and Tehran according to the 1921 and 1940 treaties until the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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The emergence of three new coastal states – the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan – forced the rethinking of the Caspian partition and its vast wealth in hydrocarbons.

The large salt lake, according to various estimates, contains probable oil reserves of 235 billion barrels below its bed.

–IANS

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