COPENHAGEN, June 3 (RIA Novosti) - A final decision on conflicting territorial claims on the Arctic seabed must be made by the United Nations, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday.
However, Sergei Lavrov said that before a final ruling can be made by a relevant UN commission, "all countries laying claim to the continental shelf and parts of the Arctic should settle their disputes between themselves."
The five Arctic coastal nations agreed at negotiations in late May that the UN must decide on conflicting territorial claims.
"We affirmed our commitment to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said at the time.
Foreign ministers from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States met in Greenland.
Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly 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.
President Dmitry Medvedev said in September at a Russian Security Council session that the extent of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic should be defined as soon as possible.
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. Moscow has pledged to submit documentary evidence to the UN on the external boundaries of Russia's territorial shelf by 2010.