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WASHINGTON, September 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Canada as the current chairman in the Arctic Council hails constructive cooperation with Russia in the framework of this forum and hopes such cooperation will be further continued, Vincent Rigby, the chair of the Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs), said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, he noted he expected Russia’s full-fledged participation in the Arctic Council’s ministerial session due to be held in Iqaluit, the capital city of the Canadian territory Nunavut, in April 2015. A question on this topic was asked in the context of a recent chill in the relations between the West and Russia over the Ukrainian crisis. Rigby however said so far the Arctic Council had succeeded in isolating both itself and the Arctic region in general from impacts of external factors, including the above problem.In his words, the Arctic Council was lucky enough to continue top-level cooperation between its member countries, including Russia. He said he hoped this cooperation would be continued.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in late August said the Arctic region should be left outside of military rhetoric and it must not be made an arena for military contentions.
“The Arctic should be left outside of the brackets of military rhetoric,” he said.
“My Canadian counterpart John Baird said one of these days Canada - or much rather he personally - was concerned by Russia’s activity in the Arctic and his country was ready for a military standoff with Russia in northern latitudes.”
“It’s also true that he or his press service - said a day later that his words had been misunderstood and distorted,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov recalled the charges against Russia that the Canadian government made several years ago when the Russian Arctic explorer Artur Chilingarov installed the Russian flag on the floor of the Arctic Ocean at the point of the geographic North Pole. Canadians said then Russia was trying to usurp territories like it had been done in the times of gold rush.