Expert: Norway-Russian Arctic deal is near

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(Stefan Nicola/UPI, 31 March 2010) — BERLIN – A 40-year-old conflict between Russia and Norway over an Arctic sea boundary will likely be over next month, an expert told United Press International. “I think there will be an agreement announced on the Barents Sea border dispute,” when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is in Oslo April 26-27, Rune Rafaelsen, the secretary-general of the Barents Secretariat, a diplomacy group focusing on regional cooperation financed by Norway’s foreign ministry, told UPI in a telephone interview. “What’s the reason for me to say this? Well, why would Medvedev spend two days in Norway if there was nothing new to announce? Also, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg met (Russian Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin two weeks ago in Helsinki in talks that hadn’t been planned. Those are indications that we might have an agreement.” Russia and Norway have for the past four decades disagreed over boundaries in the Barents Sea, which is believed to hold vast amounts of oil, gas and precious metals. Relations between both nations are nevertheless strong, with Moscow inviting Norway’s StatoilHydro to join Gazprom in tapping the Shtokman fossil fuel deposit in the Barents Sea. Climate change is causing Arctic ice sheets to melt, with the oceans in the region possibly ice-free during the summer months. This is opening a new Atlantic-Pacific shipping channel and makes the vast natural resources lying under the seabed more accessible.

Thanks to Circumpolar Musings for sharing this news item!
Original article here

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