Bush Tells Canada's Harper Energy-Rich Arctic Belongs to World

Canadian warships patrol the Arctic on August  11, 2007 as part of Operation Nanook, Canada's largest ever military exercise to assert sovereignty over Arctic. (AFP Photo)

The U.S. president reiterated Washington's commitment to international status for the energy-rich Arctic shelf during a meeting with the Canadian premier Monday, RIA-Novosti quoted a senior White House official.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been insisting on Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic shelf, but other Arctic Circle countries - the U.S., Denmark, Norway and Russia - have also applied with the UN for control over the area.

Dan Fisk, senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the U.S. National Security Council, said Harper conveyed his concerns to George W. Bush during their summit meeting in Montebello, on the north shore of the Ottawa River, about 44 miles east of Ottawa.

Harper cited remarks made by Paul Cellucci, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada, who told Canada's CTV Sunday that it would make sense to recognize Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. Bush promised to take Cellucci's opinion into consideration, a Canadian government official said.

The Canada-based newspaper The Globe and Mail said Monday the country had been building up a military presence in the Arctic and had already held four exercises in the area this year.

The Canadian premier also recently announced plans to build a deep sea port and a military training center in the Arctic to back Canada's bid for the region, the paper said.

Under international law, the five Arctic Circle countries each have a 322-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone in the Arctic Ocean at the moment.

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