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Turkey says won\'t ease Bosphorus shipping rules

   
National\"We have reached full capacity. The passage of 500 to 600 vessels a day through the straits is impossible. If we allow this, there will be a disaster,\" said coastguard chief Baris Tozar.

The new head of Turkey\'s coastguard on Thursday defended tough shipping restrictions for the crowded Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and said any easing of the rules would lead to disaster.

Russia has urged the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the U.N.\'s maritime watchdog, to pressure Turkey into dropping the stricter rules, introduced a year ago because of growing concerns over safety and pollution.

Moscow says the rules are hindering crude oil exports and raising costs for its oil companies.

The Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, linking the Black Sea and Mediterranean, are the only southern shipping outlet for Russian oil and commodity exports. It is also the only export route for several other former Soviet republics.

\"We have reached full capacity. The passage of 500 to 600 vessels a day through the straits is impossible. If we allow this, there will be a disaster,\" coastguard chief Baris Tozar told Reuters in an interview.

At present, about 140 ships pass through the Bosphorus every day, or 50,000 a year. Of those, up to 8,000 ships carry oil and other potentially hazardous cargo, he said.

Turkey governs the Bosphorus and Dardenelles straits under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which allows commercial ships to pass freely through the waterways in peacetime.
  

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