Caspian states won't let soil be used for any attack

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TEHRAN, Oct 16 (Reuters) Caspian Sea states agreed in Tehran today not to let a third country use their soil for an attack on any of them, an apparent response to speculation Washington might resort to force in its nuclear row with Iran.

The five states, including Russia, stressed that ''under no circumstances will they allow (the use of their) territories by third countries to launch aggression or other military action against any of the member states,'' a summit declaration said.

In another excerpt that will please Iran, the leaders said they acknowledged the rights of all signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop peaceful atomic energy.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the declaration at a news conference as ''very strong.'' Tehran rejects Western accusations it aims to build atomic bombs, saying it only wants to generate electricity so that it can sell more of its oil and gas.

''The sides consider the Non-Proliferation Treaty ... one the basic pillars of international security and stability,'' said the declaration, signed by the presidents of the five Caspian Sea states - Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

They ''also acknowledge the rights of all states which are parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop the research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes ... under the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) mechanism.'' Copies of the final declaration were handed to journalists by Russian officials who said it was the agreed version. The five leaders then signed it in a televised ceremony.

REUTERS GL PM1601

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