Iceland calls for end to 'Cold War' tension over Arctic

22nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iceland's president called Wednesday for an end to "Cold War" tensions over the Arctic as nations with competing claims to region met in Moscow.

"Countries should not discuss territorial claims against each other, but engage in dialogue," President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

"The Cold War times, when the Arctic was a region of tension, have passed," he added.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the two-day Arctic Forum, which opened in Moscow on Wednesday.

Delegates from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are at odds over how to divide up the Arctic seabed.

It is thought to hold 90 billion barrels of oil and 30 percent of the world's untapped gas resources, according to the US Geological Survey.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to speak at the forum on Thursday.

Grimsson was due to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for talks at his Gorki residence outside Moscow, due to start at 4:00 pm (1200 GMT) on Wednesday.

The five Arctic nations are racing to gather evidence to support their claims amid recent reports by US researchers who warn that global warming could open up the region, leaving it ice-free by 2030.

Russia alarmed its Arctic neighbours when it planted a flag on the ocean floor under the North Pole in 2007 in a symbolic staking of its claim over the region.

© 2010 AFP

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