South Korea, Iran granted observer status in Energy Charter

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 23 -- Iran and South Korea were granted observer status in the Energy Charter Conference (ECC), the governing body of an intergovernmental organization devoted to promoting East-West energy cooperation among European and Asian states.

Member states already include all the countries of the former Soviet Union. Iran is the only littoral state of the Caspian Sea that is not a member of the Energy Charter process (OGJ, Nov. 18, 2002, p. 7).

"We believe that closer Iranian involvement in the work of the charter, which is aimed at promoting market-oriented, non-discriminatory principles as the common basis for international energy relations, can only be good for regional energy cooperation in the Caspian region and for building foreign investor confidence in the Iranian energy sector," said Henning Christophersen, ECC chairman.

He said he hopes that both South Korea and Iran will consider the possibility of becoming full members of ECC.

On another topic, Christophersen said progress was made during a December meeting in Brussels toward finalizing an Energy Charter Transit Protocol, which has been under negotiation since early 2000.

He said "we are close to finding solutions" to three remaining issues that would allow Russia and the Energy Charter's other 50 members to adopt the Transit Protocol in 2003 (OGJ, Mar. 4, 2002, p. 20).

Meanwhile, talks continue regarding how certain member delegations maintain reserves. The Russian delegation to the ECC meeting issued a statement saying, "Given good will, we believe, generally acceptable compromise could be found. The Russian Federation is prepared to continue the work on the Transit Protocol in any format acceptable to the Energy Charter members."

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