Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

  • Deadly strike hits Gaza market despite four-hour 'truce'

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with holdout creditors

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

Polar summit kicks off in Washington

Latest update : 2009-04-06

The first meeting devoted to the future of the two Poles opens on Monday in Washington. Although not on the official programme, the potential riches of the continental shelf around the North Pole are expected to be at the centre of debates.

AFP - Territorial claims targeting riches hidden at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and the preservation of Antarctica's pristine environment will top the agenda of the first meeting on the future of the North and South Poles that opens here Monday.

The State Department said the meeting, to be hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will focus on the use of both the Arctic and Antarctic.

Clinton will preside over the first joint session of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and the Arctic Council on April 6 in Baltimore, Maryland, according to a press release from the State Department.

The joint meeting brings "together the two most important bodies involved with diplomacy at the Poles," the statement said.

The ATCM meeting comes on the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in Washington.

It "will note its historic significance as the first modern multilateral arms control treaty," which stipulates that Antarctica be used "for peaceful purposes only and guarantees freedom of scientific investigation."

Although the official agenda focuses on peaceful activities in Antarctica as well as freedom of scientific research, participants are likely to focus on rich oil and gas deposits in the continental shelf around the North Pole.

Now that global warming has opened new navigation routes in the area, these deposits have sparked fierce competition among nations surrounding the Arctic, according to French ambassador for international negotiations Michel Rocard.

The US Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic holds about 90 billion barrels of oil and even bigger deposits of gas.

These resources constitute 13 percent of the world's untapped reserves of oil and 30 percent of reserves of natural gas.

The riches are being disputed by the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark, whose island of Greenland could become independent.

A Russian submarine symbolically planted a flag on the sea bed at the North Pole in 2007 and Moscow recently announced plans to militarize its part of the Arctic in order to protect its interests there.

Canada meanwhile is trying to extend its control over Arctic waters to 200 nautical miles.

Ottawa has been consistently reaffirming its sovereignty over the region, in particular the North-West Passage and its thousands of uninhabited islands. Due to melting ice, the passage could become an important future maritime route linking Asia to Europe.

The United States and other countries consider it an international waterway.

In order to protect the environment, France has proposed improving governance over the region. Priorities would include international control over fishing rights, says to Rocard.

During the ATCM meeting, US delegates propose to "limit the size of vessels that can land passengers in Antarctica and to establish higher standards for the use of lifeboats aboard tourist vessels that visit Antarctica," the State Department statement said.

"US participation in International Polar Year included research conducted by a range of federal agencies," it added.

These include the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Geological Survey, it said.

Date created : 2009-04-06

COMMENT(S)