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IRAN -- The US has stoked tensions in the Caspian by calling Iran’s recent bout of military muscle flexing in the disputed sea "provocative in character." Tehran retorted that any "external interference would only complicate matters." Iran stirred up the Caspian issue last month when it chased off two BP vessels surveying a block awarded by Azerbaijan. Turkmenistan also accused Azerbaijan of overstepping its boundaries in its rush for oil (PIW Aug.13,p8). With tensions riding high, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has called for the postponement of a Caspian summit planned in Ashkhabad for the end of October, though Azeri President Haidar Aliev plans to visit Tehran in mid-September.

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