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Arctic States Meeting In Finland To Talk Resources, Environment

Senior officials from the United States, Russia, and other countries bordering the Arctic are opening a two-day meeting in Finland amid growing tensions over how to deal with global warming and access to mineral wealth in the polar region.

Thawing ice in the Arctic is beginning to give increased access to much of the planet's remaining undiscovered reserves of oil and natural gas and large deposits of zinc, iron, and rare-earth metals, prompting nearby states as well as world powers such as China to rush and claim territory or boost their presence in the region.

The Pentagon warned on May 2 of the risk of Chinese submarines in the Arctic as shipping routes are also opening up due to thawing.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- who is due to give a speech at the meeting in the northern Finnish city of Rovaniemi on May 6 -- has rejected a role for China in shaping Arctic policy.

Washington and Moscow have announced that Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss "a broad range of issues" on the sidelines of the Arctic Council, including the political crisis in Venezuela.

The Arctic Council consists of the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, with the region's indigenous populations also represented.

China has had observer status at the council since 2013. Beijing last year came up with a plan for a "Polar Silk Road." India, South Korea, Singapore, Italy and, Japan also have observer status at the Arctic Council.

The Washington Post reported the United States had refused to sign off on a final declaration, disagreeing with the wording on climate change.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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