Five-nation deal paves way for tapping Caspian riches

Five states sharing Caspian shoreline sign deal on legal status of inland body of water, agreeing to keep it exclusive.

The leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have signed a landmark deal on the legal status of the resource-rich Caspian Sea, taking a big step towards resolving 22 years of dispute with the prospect of massive financial gains.

The five nations sharing the Caspian coastline agreed in the Kazakh city of Aktau on Sunday to treat the largest inland body of water in the world as a lake and a sea at the same time.

Defining it a lake would mean the Caspian should be divided equally among the five countries. But if it’s a sea, then each state gets a share in proportion to the length of its shoreline.