TEHRAN, August 16 (Mehr News Agency) – MP Hamid-Reza Hajbabaei said here on Saturday that the U.S. has entered the territorial waters of the five littoral states in its joint military maneuver with Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea.

He added that as long as there is no legal regime to divide the sea, the United States is violating the littoral states’ borders.      


Hajbabaei, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told the Mehr News Agency that Azerbaijan is opposed to an equal division of the Caspian Sea, saying that Azerbaijan is using Washington’s presence in the area to force Russia and Iran to accept the views of Azeri officials on the establishment of the Caspian legal regime.  


Highlighting Iran and Azerbaijan’s disputes over oil fields, he added that while the coastal countries are trying to peacefully resolve their dispute, this military maneuver being carried out on the pretext of maintaining the security of oil fields is actually a threat to the littoral states. 


Baku officials have objected to Russia’s recent agreement to equally divide the Caspian Sea, and it seems that Azerbaijan will insist on the unequal division of the sea, fearing Russian control of the sea as before, Hajbabaei said.  


Russia is expected to react to the military presence of the U.S. in the Caspian Sea, and Iran should move in line with the neighboring countries that are opposed to the militarization of the Caspian Sea."


He suggested that appropriate measures should be taken to resolve the problem.


Hajbabaei said that country's which invite the U.S. to the region will be held responsible for any future turmoil in the area.


He also added that the militarization of the Caspian Sea and the presence of foreign forces in the sea are counterproductive.


Elsewhere in his remarks, the MP said that the Islamic Republic is steadfast in defending its position and will not allow anyone to harm its national interests. 


MP Elaheh Koolaee, who is also a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that the militarization of the Caspian Sea will not benefit any of the littoral states.


Despite a commitment by the littoral states to avoid militarization of the sea, the Russian president ordered a military maneuver in the Caspian Sea immediately after a summit of littoral states in Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan.


Koolaee said that the Russian military maneuver last year served as a model for other littoral states such as Azerbaijan.


She said some littoral states are resorting to all possible means to increase their influence in and share of the sea.


By signing an oil contract with the U.S. in 1994, Baku tried to pave the way for the military and economic presence of the United States in the region, she commented.


She noted that, in light of the current situation, both Iran and Russia should use realistic and active diplomacy to defend their interests in the sea.


The U.S.-Azeri joint maneuver in the Caspian Sea, which began last Wednesday, is part of a $4.4 million commitment by the U.S. to provide for the maritime security of Azerbaijan.






News Code 1277

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