Pressing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the economic and national security importance of the Arctic, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich echoed his call for the State Department to appoint an Arctic Ambassador during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
Begich's comments received a positive response from Kerry.
"This country needs an Arctic Ambassador to protect and advocate for America's Arctic presence," Begich said. "I'm pleased that Sec. Kerry is keeping an open mind on this issue and I will continue to press the State Department on the economic and national security importance of appointing an Arctic Ambassador."
To heighten America's diplomatic presence, Begich has taken the lead on a bill in the Senate that would name a U.S. Ambassador to the Arctic. Begich has been advocating for an Arctic ambassador since he came to the Senate, and has worked closely with the administration on this issue in the past.
Six of the eight Arctic nations currently have ambassador-level diplomats representing their interests before the Arctic Council. The United States will assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in two years, in 2015.