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German Foreign Minister Warns Against Exploiting Arctic

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has cautioned against countries breaking the law in attempts to reap the Arctic’s natural energy resources. The warning comes shortly after Russia laid claims to the area.

“I very much believe that everybody should respect international law,” Steinmeier said while visiting a research station at Ny Alesund on Spitzbergen, a Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean. “The North Pole is not a law-free zone; there are international accords which must be respected by all nations who have interests here. If everybody sticks to the rules, there will be no conflict.”
Steinmeier was referring to Russia. Earlier this month, members of a Russian submarine expedition planted a flag beneath the North Pole, thereby allowing Moscow to reassert that the seabed is an extension of its own land mass.

“Spectacular exploits mean very little,” said Steinmeier, who was accompanied by his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Stoere.

The Arctic Sea has become both a vulnerable and contested place. Scientists believe the sea bed contains massive oil and gas reserves, which could become easier to access as global warming causes the North Pole’s ice caps to melt.

Deutsche Welle

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