India chosen as observer at the Arctic Council

Kiruna (Sweden): In a boost to India's bid for a strong foothold in the resource-rich Arctic region, the Arctic Council today expanded to include six new nations, including India, as observer states.

The inclusion of observer states to the council came after an intense debate at the council's biennial meeting here where US Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke.

With the Arctic ice melting, the region's abundant oil, gas and minerals deposits have become accessible and have shortened the shipping routes, setting off a global race for influence and economic opportunities far beyond the nations that border the Arctic.

"Welcome China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore as new Observer States, and take note of the adoption by Senior Arctic Officials of an Observer manual to guide the Council's subsidiary bodies in relation to meeting logistics and the roles played by Observers," the Kiruna Declaration said.

The council includes the eight Arctic nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves, and 30 per cent of undiscovered gas deposits.