Senator Lisa Murkowski today reached out to new Secretary of State John Kerry, asking him to prioritize America's Arctic engagement as his predecessor did, with Murkowski becoming the first U.S. Senator to participate in the Arctic Parliamentarians' conference in 2011 with former Secretary of State Clinton -- making a high-profile national commitment to Arctic issues.
In a letter to the Department of State (attached), Senator Murkowski calls upon expanded U.S. leadership in a region currently at a crossroads -- with Arctic waters opening and international policies being created:
"The Arctic is not presently subject to the type of long-standing disputes and entrenched views that make diplomatic activity in the region difficult, but it is an area that is starting to garner international attention and recognition of its tremendous economic potential. As a result, it is imperative that the United States take the lead in guiding international policy decisions in the Arctic.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to focus on the North American Arctic over the next four years and its economic and national security implications for the United States. With the level of activity within the Arctic Council ramping up in recent years, there are considerable expectations for the United States when it becomes Chair."
In her letter the Senator asks that Secretary Kerry not only attend the next Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden next May, but also designate a senior official to serve as the nation's Ambassador to the Arctic. As the United States prepares to become Chair of the Arctic Council in 2015, it is imperative "the United States maintains commitment to the Arctic and demonstrates leadership in the region."