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Canada, United States clash over Arctic

QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The United States says it won't budge on its refusal to recognize Canada's claim to sovereignty over Arctic waters.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported Sunday that U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins -- who appeared defensive when confronted on the issue by Canadian Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper -- insisted that he was simply restating Washington's longstanding position.

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The United States says that outside the 12-mile territorial limits around Canada's Arctic islands, the Northwest Passage is international waters.

"Nothing more, nothing less," said Wilkins at a news conference. "I just restated the position that we had for several decades and the same statement that I have made many, many times and that I have made in Canada over the last seven months."

Harper -- who won last Monday's election in Canada -- said the new government has "significant" plans to defend Canada's sovereignty.

Wilkins refused to say whether Harper's remarks would chill U.S.-Canadian relations. He also refused comment on Harper's plans to increase patrols of Arctic waters and deploy a greater military presence.

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