Sunday, January 29, 2006

VOA News - Canada-US Arctic Dispute Sparks Sharp Exchange

By Craig McCulloch
27 January 2006

McCulloch report (Real Media) - Download 613k audio clip
Listen to McCulloch report (Real Media) audio clip

Even though he has not yet been sworn in, Canada's prime minister designate is already in a diplomatic dispute with the United States. At issue is claims of sovereignty in the northern Arctic.

The dispute is over Canada's claim to the area of the Arctic Ocean that is offshore from the country's northern territories.Canada, the United States and Russia have had conflicting claims in the Arctic for years.

The prime minister designate's retort came after the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, made a comment earlier this week disputing Canada's assertion of sovereignty over Arctic waters the United States considers international territory. "We don't recognize Canada's claim to those waters," he said.

Ambassador Wilkins added that there is no reason to create a problem that does not exist.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper gives thumbs up in Calgary, Canada, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper gives thumbs up in Calgary, Canada, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006
For incoming Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who will formally take office on February 6, this issue clearly is a problem.

Canada's northern sovereignty became a recurring issue during the 46-year-old economist's recent election campaign. Mr. Harper is promising to build three new armed icebreaking ships for the Arctic in addition to establishing underwater sensors to listen for foreign vessels, including U.S. submarines. He is also vowing to establish aerial surveillance and install more military personnel. In addition, he supports plans for building a new port in the Arctic town of Iqaluit to house the additional personnel and new ships.

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