BAKU, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Countries bordering the Caspian Sea may finally determine its legal status at a summit this year, possibly ending two decades of negotiations over a body of water rich in hydrocarbon reserves, Azerbaijan's Deputy Foreign Minister said here Wednesday.
Khalaf Khalafov was addressing the Ad Hoc Working group session on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. He said plenty has been achieved, but a final status remains elusive.
"The full alignment of the draft convention will lay a foundation for determining the status of the sea at the heads of state level," he said.
According to the official, Azerbaijan wants to divide the seabed between the five bordering states as well as the proceeds from prior agreements reached between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
The Caspian Sea's legal status remains in dispute due to differences on how the sea should be divided. All five Caspian littoral states -- Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran -- maintain naval forces on the sea. Negotiations between them have been ongoing for the past 20 years, with some progress achieved at the Fourth Caspian Summit held in Astrakhan in 2014.
Khalafov said points of contention remain concerning access to other seas, agreements on innocent passage or the right to allow a vessel to pass through the territorial waters of another state, and rules for laying cables and pipelines.
He also underlined that confidence-building measures must ensure the safety of all Caspian countries.