TURKMENBASHI, Turkmenistan (AP) — Five countries bordering the energy-rich Caspian Sea met Monday at an economic forum hosted by Turkmenistan in a bid to agree on how to divide the region’s oil wealth.

Last year, the leaders of Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan signed a convention aimed at ending decades-long uncertainty over exploitation of its resources.

The agreement establishes rules for declaring each country’s territorial waters and fishing zones, but the issue of dividing seabed that contains rich oil and gas fields is subject to further negotiations.

Russia and Iran are yet to ratify last year’s agreement. Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who attended Monday’s forum in Turkmenistan, said that the ratification is expected “in the near future.”

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri was non-committal, during his speech at the forum.

Jahangiri argued that non-Caspian nations shouldn’t meddle in the region’s affairs and charged that the United States’ unilateralist policies and its emphasis on sanctions threaten stability of the region.

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who has wielded all-encompassing power since taking office in 2006, styling himself as the former Soviet republic’s Arkadag (protector), told the forum that the Caspian energy riches should provide a powerful incentive for the region’s development.

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