The Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson met with Ms. Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's health minister and newly appointed Minister of Arctic Affairs in Iceland yesterday.
Following her visit to Reykjavík, Aglukkaq will travel to the other Nordic states to introduce Canada's Chairmanship Programme for the Arctic Council.
At their meeting the ministers discussed cooperation between the countries and the their policies within the Arctic Council as Canada will take on the chairmanship of the Arctic Council at the council's ministerial meeting in Kiruna May 15.
Leona Aglukkaq who will lead the chairmanship, said Canada's overarching theme would be promoting projects that have practical implications for the inhabitants of the region, including economic growth and the development of natural resources in a sustainable manner, safer Arctic shipping, engagement with industry and the business community and cultural cooperation within the Circumpolar region.
"Our main agenda is development of the people in the Arctic, sustainable and safe exploitation of resources and safe shipping in the Arctic," she told Morgunblaðið.
The Foreign Minister expressed his view that strong regional and political cooperation within the Arctic Council, aimed at constructive projects and agreements is one of the pillars of Iceland's Arctic policy. The Minsters agreed on the importance of strengthening practical cooperation of the Arctic States on responses to environmental disasters, e.g. by supporting prevention and responses to shipping accidents and oil spill in the Arctic.
The Foreign Minister also emphasized the importance of developing further ideas on economic cooperation with the possible establishment of Circumpolar Chamber of Commerce. The issue of permanent observers was discussed and the future development of the Arctic Council and its role in the global context.
After her meeting with the Foreign Minister, Ms. Aglukkaq met Ms. Svandísi Svavarsdóttir, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources and experts from institutes working with Arctic affairs in Iceland.