WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Lisa Murkowski held two meetings with Arctic officials in her ongoing effort to build relationships and consensus within the region, with the United States scheduled to begin the 2-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council next year.
"As I work in Washington, DC, national leaders are beginning to acknowledge we are an Arctic nation -- which begs the question "What now?' The dynamic Arctic region presents significant opportunities and challenges for Alaska, the U.S. and our circumpolar neighbors," said Murkowski. "In order to be prepared for increased activity, commerce and development, we need to strengthen our ties with other Arctic nations, identify common goals and concerns, and our federal government needs to make investing in Arctic infrastructure a priority. I thank Ms. Aglukkaq and Mr. Barber for sharing their viewpoints with me."
Murkowski met with Leona Aglukkaq, the first Inuk to be appointed to the Canadian Cabinet and who presently serves as Chair of the Arctic Council. Murkowski and Aglukkaq opened the meeting by discussing cultural differences and similarities expressed by different types of kuspuks worn by Alaska Natives and those worn in Aglukkaq's home province of Nunavut. They then discussed the importance of responsible economic development in northern areas to help and maintain indigenous populations. Their conversation closed with the two planning out the transition from Canadian Chairmanship of the Arctic Council to the U.S. next year, and how to best push forward with their shared priorities.
Later, Senator Murkowski met with the nominee to become the United States' next Ambassador to Iceland, Rob Barber. The two discussed his enthusiasm at being appointed to such a frontline nation, for Arctic development and opportunities, as well as how his expansive business background will empower the Arctic Council's Circumpolar business initiatives.