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Senator joins Secretary Clinton at Arctic Council

May 10th, 2011 | Alaska Newspapers Staff Print this article   Email this article  

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join this week in the Arctic Council meeting in Nuuk, Greenland, becoming the first U.S. Senator and State Department head to participate in the event.

Challenges and opportunities for the Arctic Council in a changing Arctic will be the main focus, "but oil and gas development will play a major role, with several member countries interested in, or engaged in, offshore drilling projects," Murkowski said.

Council members are expected to sign two important documents; the Nuuk Declaration, and Search and Rescue treaty.

The Arctic is an enormous area, sprawled over one-sixth of the Earth's land mass, with a population of some four million people, including over 30 different indigenous peoples and dozens of languages. It is also a region of vast natural resources and a very clean environment compared to much of the rest of the world.

The Nuuk Declaration is the ministers' common statement on the work of the Arctic Council, which outlines the direction for the incoming Swedish chairmanship. The search and rescue agreement, the first ever legally binding agreement among Arctic states negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council, will strengthen the cooperation on search and rescue between Arctic states.

"Less sea ice means more opportunity - for shipping, for tourism, for development," Murkowski said. "The international community must take this moment to listen to Alaska's motto 'North to the future' and move forward intelligently in the Arctic."

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental association of eight member states with territory inside the Arctic Circle. The group includes Canada in the North; Denmark/Greenland/Faroe Islands; Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.

The council was founded in 1995 and holds ministerial meetings every two years at locations in Arctic nations. The 2009 meeting was held in Tromso, Norway.


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