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Caspian Sea convention moves Iran closer to northern neighbors

While the signing of the landmark legal convention on the Caspian Sea has exposed the Rouhani administration to criticism at home, the accord provides Iran with important advantages while leaving the door open for further talks on boundaries.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov  pose for a family photo during the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan August 12, 2018.  Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - UP1EE8C1E9DPM
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The Kazakh coastal city of Aktau hosted Aug. 12 the fifth summit of the five Caspian littoral states — Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan — on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. The presidents of the five countries signed a landmark convention on the legal status of the Caspian, ending 21 years of disagreements over how to coordinate their economic, political and security plans for the largest inland salt sea in the world. On the sidelines of the summit, six agreements were also signed on issues such as economic cooperation, transportation and fighting organized crime.

Although the five presidents at the summit praised the convention as a significant step in resolving longstanding disagreements and a prelude to further cooperation in the Caspian region, Iranian public opinion showed an overall negative reaction to the accord. Most of the criticisms were based on the claim that Iran has ceded its historical rights in the Caspian to its northern neighbors.

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