Parliament defers Zarif’s briefing session on Caspian Sea

June 11, 2019

TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was scheduled to attend a parliament’s open session on Tuesday to respond to lawmakers’ questions but the parliament postponed the briefing session due to the top diplomat’s busy schedule.

Zarif was expected to elaborate on the convention signed by Iran and four other Caspian Sea littoral states and the sea’s legal status, according to Mehr news agency.

Zarif hosted his German counterpart Heiko Mass and a high-ranking delegation on Monday.

He is also scheduled to have a Wednesday meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to discuss a number of bilateral and international issues, including the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA), which has been in shambles ever since the U.S. withdrew from it.

The date of Zarif’s briefing session will be decided later, Mehr reported.

Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh, a member of the parliament’s presiding board, said the briefing session was scheduled due to the sensitivity of the issue and the related discussions surrounding it.

Zarif will be questioned by three lawmakers, including Mostafa Kavakebian, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh and Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani. 

Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan agreed in principle in August 2018 on how to divide up the potentially huge oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea, paving the way for more energy exploration and pipeline projects.

However, the delimitation of the seabed, which is seemingly at the center of the dispute, will require additional agreements between littoral nations.

For almost three decades, the five littoral states have argued over how to divide the world’s biggest enclosed body of water.

After the agreement was signed, rumors inside and outside the country started circulating the media that Iran had given up its right to ownership of the Caspian in early negotiations over the sea’s legal status in 1996.

However, the Foreign Ministry promptly reacted to the rumors, dismissing all of them as “unfounded claims”.

MH/PA