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Kerry to name special ambassador for arctic issues

Feb. 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he will create a position that will deal with diplomatic issues arising from renewed global interest in the arctic.

He announced the new position in a letter to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who had called for such an ambassador when he was elected to office in 2008, the Hill reported Saturday.

"Time was of the essence," Kerry said, noting the United States takes over direction of the eight-nation Arctic Council next year.

Kerry did not indicate who he had in mind as the new envoy, but said he would choose a "high-level individual of substantial stature and expertise."

Begich called the announcement "an important step in the right direction."

"The bottom line is that the changes we see in the arctic warrant a higher level of involvement from the United States and this position will allow us to better exercise leadership and vision in arctic policy moving forward," the senator said in a statement.

In a statement released by the State Department, Kerry called the arctic "the last global frontier, and a region with enormous and growing geostrategic, economic, climate, environment and national security implications for the United States and the world."

"President Obama and I are committed to elevating our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the arctic's rapid transformation -- a very rare convergence of almost every national priority in the most rapidly changing region on the face of the Earth," Kerry said.

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