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New US Administration May ‘Lose Momentum’ on Arctic Priorities

© Sputnik / Vitaliy Ankov / Go to the mediabankThe Arctic icebreaker Admiral Makarov of the Far Eastern Shipping Company sails out from Vladivostok
The Arctic icebreaker Admiral Makarov of the Far Eastern Shipping Company sails out from Vladivostok - Sputnik International
The next US administration may lose focus on Arctic issues when a new president takes office in January, US Special Representative to the Arctic Council Adm. Robert Papp told reporters.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Secretary Kerry is the first high-level US official to take the chairmanship of the Arctic Council since the group’s creation in 1996. The final Arctic Council ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in Fairbanks, Alaska on May 2017 before the US passes on the chairmanship.

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"I am concerned that we might lose some momentum during the election season and into the new administration," Papp said on Monday.

The United States currently chairs the international Arctic Council for a two-year term that ends in May 2017. During its chairmanship, Secretary of State John Kerry set an ambitious agenda to address climate change, improve economic opportunities and enhance ocean safety.

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"Rather than waiting until year seven of a presidency, hopefully we can start addressing the Arctic in year one of the presidency," Papp suggested, noting the difficulties he anticipates in pushing the Arctic as a priority after President Barack Obama leaves office.

Papp explained the new administration will have to be convinced that it is "worth the Secretary of State’s time" to even attend the upcoming 2017 Arctic Council Ministerial.

However, he observed that high-level US participation "is not a foregone conclusion."

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