Russia hosts international meeting on Arctic security


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 19, 2009 at 2:31 PM EDT

An international conference on Arctic security attended by several of the region's neighbours including the United States opened in Russia on Wednesday, Russia's ministry for emergency situations said.

Canada, Denmark, Finland and Sweden are also taking part in the three-day conference in Anadyr, capital of the far eastern region of Chukotka, an unnamed ministry spokesman said.

Talks at the meeting will focus on emergency situation management and prevention, including nuclear accidents, as well as how best to conduct search and rescue operations in the vast region.

Five countries bordering the Arctic -- Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States -- claim overlapping parts of the region, which is estimated to hold 90 billion untapped barrels of oil.

Last year, Canada announced that its military would step up its alert level along its northern frontier in response to Russia "testing" its boundaries with military flights skirting the border which had not seen since the Cold War.

Ottawa responded with plans for a sensor net, more navy patrols and a military training camp in the far north.

Canada is this year conducting its biggest ever military exercises in the region, including for the first time anti-submarine measures as well as the deployment of a new elite Arctic commando unit.

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