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    Putin defends Russia's Arctic rights, calls for dialogue

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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin justified on Monday Russia's claims for the Arctic continental shelf and urged other nations to resolve all controversial issues through dialogue.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin justified on Monday Russia's claims for the Arctic continental shelf and urged other nations to resolve all controversial issues through dialogue.

    The Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice and make hydrocarbon deposits under the Arctic Ocean increasingly accessible. This has made the extent of the continental shelf a matter of national interest.

    "There has been much ado around the Arctic region. You know how the [Russian] flag was erected [on the seabed] and how negatively our neighbors reacted to this. Nobody has ever stopped them from erecting their own flags. Let them do it. But we work under the rules established by the United Nations and in line with international maritime laws," Putin told members of the Russian Geographic Society.

    Russia along with other Arctic Council nations will take part in an international conference on the Arctic on April 22-23 in Moscow.

    Putin expressed hope that the participants of the conference "will discuss the existing disputes in a calm and neighborly manner...will listen to each other rather than exchange threats on non-existing issues."

    Under international law, each of the five Arctic Circle countries has a 322-kilometer (200-mile) exclusive economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.

    However, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, if a country can show its continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit, it can claim rights to more of the ocean floor.

    Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov Ridge in the summer of 2007 - to support its territorial claims in the region.

    Russia first claimed the territory in 2001, but the United Nations demanded more evidence.

    Russia has said it will invest some 1.5 billion rubles ($49.7 million) in defining the extent of its continental shelf in the Arctic in 2010 in order to prove its right to more of the Arctic floor.

     

    MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti)

     

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