Caspian nations reaffirm pledge to keep foreign armies out

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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of the other four countries along the Caspian Sea on Wednesday reaffirmed their shared commitment to keep foreign militaries out of the region.

The presidents of Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan met in Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, for a summit to discuss regional cooperation and international issues.

In a communique after the meeting, they emphasized their agreement to bar any foreign militaries from the Caspian. They also underlined a pledge not to offer the territory of their nations for aggression against another littoral country.

The communique also emphasized the importance of cooperation in the military sphere between the Caspian nations.

In 2018, the five countries signed a convention for exploitation of the Caspian Sea resources that ended decades of uncertainty.

For Putin, Wednesday’s visit to Ashgabat came as part of his first foreign trip since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Putin visited the ex-Soviet nation of Tajikistan the previous day.

Wednesday’s summit came as NATO held its own summit in Madrid, declaring Russia the “most significant and direct threat” to its members’ peace and security and vowing to strengthen support for Ukraine.

Putin and other leaders didn’t mention the fighting in Ukraine at their public comments at the summit.

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