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US diplomat says Washington is pleased with Arctic cooperation with Moscow

The US administration also expects Russia to attend the foreign ministers meeting of the Arctic Council member states in Alaska

WASHINGTON, March 28. /TASS/. The United States is pleased with the Arctic cooperation with Moscow, said Ambassador David Balton, the US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

While talking to TASS ahead of his visit to the Russian city of Arkhangelsk, where the Fourth International Arctic Forum will be held, Balton said that "the US Government is quite pleased with the level of cooperation among all Arctic Council Members, including Russia."

"The Arctic remains a peaceful and politically stable region. The Arctic Council contributes significantly to that, through the cooperative work that its members undertake," the US diplomat added.

Balton is the senior US official in the Arctic Council comprising Russia, the United States, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Arkhangelsk will host the Fourth International Arctic Forum dubbed "Arctic: Territory of Dialogue" on March 29-30. Over 1,500 representatives of 14 countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, China, Norway, the United States, Finland, Canada, Switzerland and Japan, are expected to participate. Heads of the biggest Russian and foreign companies active in the Arctic region will attend the conference, as well as officials and scientists.

TASS is the general information partner of the conference. 

On the challenges the Arctic is facing 

The US administration believes that the Arctic has been facing socio-economic and environmental challenges and not security ones.

According to Balton, "the Arctic remains a peaceful and politically stable region."

"I think that Russia, the United States and other nations have a common interest in keeping it that way," he added. When asked if the new US Administration was concerned about Russian military activities in the Arctic, the US diplomat said that "the Arctic faces some serious challenges, but they are essentially socio-economic and environmental in nature."

"Through the Arctic Council and other mechanisms, I think that the governments should focus on addressing those challenges," he added.

The Alaska meeting 

The US administration expects Russia to attend the foreign ministers meeting of the Arctic Council member states, scheduled to be held in Alaska in May.

"We expect Russia to join with all other Arctic Council Members in attending the Ministerial Meeting to be held in Fairbanks, Alaska,"  the diplomat said.

According to him, "this event will bring to fruition the work of the US Chairmanship as we ‘pass the torch’ to Finland." "At the Ministerial, we are planning for the signing of a new agreement to promote scientific cooperation in the Arctic, an agreement that was developed under the joint leadership of Russia and the United States," Balton added. "Later this year, we also hope that Russia and others will conclude negotiations on an agreement to prevent unregulated fishing in the central Arctic Ocean," he said.

Balton also said that during the Arkhangelsk forum, he planned "to speak about the work of the Arctic Council during the two-year US chairmanship that will culminate in May 2017."

"I may also touch on a separate process in which the Arctic nations and others are trying to develop an international agreement on Arctic fisheries," he added.