The United States is creating a new ambassador-at-large position for the arctic region, officials said Friday.
“An arctic region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative is of critical strategic importance to the United States and a priority for Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken,” Bureau of Public Affairs Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a press release Friday.
“As one of eight Arctic nations, the United States has long been committed to protecting our national security and economic interests in the region, combating climate change, fostering sustainable development and investment, and promoting cooperation with Arctic States, Allies, and partners.”
The new ambassador will be appointed by President Joe Biden and submitted to the Senate for advice and consent, the agency said.
According to the State Department, the position will advance U.S. policy with the partners in the region, consisting of Russia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, and Canada, and the United States, as warmer temperatures open more sea lanes in the region.
Reuters reported that nations like Russia are reopening “hundreds” of Soviet-era military installations in the area as well.
In a statement Friday, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who sits as a co-chair of the Senate Artic Caucus, said the United States was the only nation in the group that did not have an ambassador for the region.”
Before today, the U.S. was the only Arctic nation without dedicated diplomatic representation for the arctic region at the ambassador level or higher,” she said.
“For years I have advocated for our country to elevate our arctic leadership and diplomatic efforts to properly represent our nation’s arctic interests. I’ve kept pressure on the State Department, and introduced legislation, consistently emphasizing that it must uphold its duty to America by creating a position commensurate with our responsibilities in this rapidly evolving region.”
She said by “elevating” this role, the U.S. will have a greater impact in leading the goals of the region.
“By establishing this role, America will solidify its dedication, commitment, and leadership to this strategically important region and have greater opportunities to spur the diplomacy necessary to preserve a peaceful, prosperous arctic,” she said. “This announcement—which dovetails the recent opening of the new Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies—sends a strong signal to our allies and adversaries that America is all-hands-on-deck in the arctic. Make no mistake, because of Alaska, America is not only an arctic nation, but an arctic leader. I look forward to the announcing of a nominee and urge the State Department to quickly move forward with the next steps.”
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