Hillary slams Canada, leaves Arctic summit

March 30th, 2010 - 11:19 am ICT by IANS  

Ottawa, March 30 (IANS) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Canada Monday for not inviting Sweden, Finland, and Iceland for the Arctic summit held near Ottawa and made an early exit from the gathering.
Attended by foreign ministers of Canada, Denmark, Russia, the US and Norway, the summit was organized to discuss the future of the resource-rich Arctic region which contains one fourth of the world’s oil and gas reserves as well as unfathomed mineral wealth.

As global warming leads to melting of Arctic ice, a virtual scramble has broken among coastal countries - Canada, Russia, the US, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Finland, Iceland and Denmark - for control of its oil and gas, minerals and fresh water.

Upset over Canada’s decision not to invite Sweden, Finland and Iceland, Hillary Clinton didn’t attend the closing news conference and left.

“Significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region. We need all hands on deck because there is a huge amount to do, and not much time to do it.

“What happens in the Arctic will have broad consequences for the earth and its climate. The melting of sea ice, glaciers and permafrost will affect people and ecosystems around the world,” Clinton said.

A report prepared by 40 experts from member countries of the Arctic council fears militarization of the Arctic region as different nations fortify their claims to its resources.

All Arctic nations have to submit their claims by 2013 to the UN which will then decide by 2020 which nation controls what parts of the Arctic bed.

But the expert report said the agreement might be far away, warning “This is a world in which many international players anxiously move to outwit competitors and secure tomorrow’s resources today. Political tensions are high and brinksmanship is the name of the game.”

To safeguard its future interests, Canada has decided to station eight naval ships and build a navy and an army base in its Arctic region. The Americans have already held military exercises in Alaska and the Russians too are flexing their military muscle.

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