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US signs agreement on enhancing international Arctic scientific cooperation

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Credit: Ian Joughin, University of Washington APL Polar Science Center

On May 11, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an agreement to promote Arctic scientific cooperation by breaking down barriers to scientific research and exploration.

The signing took place at the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States are parties to the agreement.

The "Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation" is the product of three years of work by the Arctic Council's Task Force for Enhancing Science Cooperation. The U.S. delegation to the task force, led by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Office of Polar Programs, represented several U.S. science agencies.

This is the third legally binding agreement the parties have negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council.

The agreement ensures scientists from the eight Arctic nations have access to the Arctic areas that each state has identified, including "entry and exit of persons, equipment, and materials; access to research infrastructure and facilities; and access to research areas." The agreement also calls for the parties to promote education and training of scientists working on Arctic matters.

The agreement entered into force upon its signature.

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