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First ever Arctic summit likely in early 2019: President

11 Oct 2018, 01:36 ( 8 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
President Sauli Niinistö. Photo Office of the President by Juhani Kandell.

The preparation for a possible summit of Arctic heads of state has made good progress, a Finnish language newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper quoted President Sauli Niinistö as saying that "the interest of the United States has increased". Niinistö described the progress as "surprising".

Niinistö indicated that the publication of the climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week has increased the possibility of enhancing the level of the meeting. Niinistö had earlier said it was certain that a meeting of foreign ministers could take place.

Helsingin Sanomat reported on Wednesday afternoon that the possible date for a summit has already been considered. The newspaper quoted its sources saying the Arctic heads of state could convene in Helsinki either in mid-February or in May.

 The newspaper reported that U.S. President Donald Trump would decide about his participation after the mid-term election in early November. Niinistö said he would not comment on the timing of U.S. decision making.

Trump and Russian President Vladmimir Putin met in Helsinki in July 2018, and the planned Arctic summit would possibly bring together the two once again in Helsinki.

Besides Finland, the United States and Russia, the possible summit would also bring leaders of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Canada. The eight countries are the members of the Arctic Council, the chairmanship of which is run by Finland until May 2019.

Last June Niinistö said the "first ever Arctic summit", if taking place, would tackle the black carbon emissions in the polar region. Black carbon accelerates the melting of sea ice and the impact of the climate change in the Arctic region.

Niinistö said that success is "not guaranteed, but the potential rewards are high".