John Kerry Creating Arctic Position at State

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is creating a new Arctic position.

In a letter to Sen. Mark Begich, Kerry says he will appoint a person of high stature to serve as “Special Representative for the Arctic Region” in order to elevate U.S. attention on the far North.

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Both Begich and Sen. Lisa Murkowski have pressed the administration to create the role. Begich says most of the Arctic countries already have ambassador-level diplomats pressing their national interests at the Arctic Council. Earlier this week, Sen. Murkowski criticized the Administration’s approach to the Arctic. In a letter to President Obama, she called a recent White House implementation plan “unambitious” and said its emphasis on research seems aimed at conservation to the exclusion of resource development.

She says today’s news is a step in the right direction but she nonetheless calls the Administration’s efforts to seize Arctic opportunities “lackluster” and “a national embarrassment.”