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Key agreement signed at Arctic Council meeting in Sweden


18:13, May 15, 2013

KIRUNA, Sweden, May 15 (Xinhua) -- A new Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic was signed on Wednesday at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in the city of Kiruna, northern Sweden.

This is the second legally-binding agreement among the Arctic states and will enhance response measures and cooperation in the Arctic.

It will "substantially improve procedures for combating oil spills in the Arctic," according to a press release.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the agreement, saying that "painful" memories of the oil spill near U.S. shores should not repeat again. He also expressed strong support for a collaborative partnership with other Arctic member states to "protect and preserve" the Arctic.

The ministerial meeting also witnessed the release of several important scientific reports, including the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, the Arctic Ocean Review and the Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment, providing new benchmarks and knowledge about the state of the Arctic environment.

Approximately 230 people, including ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers, participated in this event, which marks the end of the two-year Swedish chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

The Arctic Council, founded about 20 years ago, includes eight Arctic countries, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

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