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Russia, Norway reach agreement to divide Arctic territories - Norwegian premier

RIA Novosti


OSLO, April 27 (RIA Novosti) - After almost 40 years of talks, Russia and Norway reached on Tuesday an agreement on the demarcation of their maritime borders in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said.

The announcement came during a joint news conference which followed talks between Stoltenberg and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Oslo.

"Our meeting, which has just finished, resulted in the agreement between our countries concerning the demarcation line in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean," the Norwegian prime minister said, adding: "This is very important."

The Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly been at the center of disputes between Russia and Norway, as well as the United States, Canada and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.

Under international law, the five Arctic Circle countries each have a 322-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone in the Arctic Ocean. An area of 175,000 square kilometers has been the issue of the dispute between Norway and Russia.

"We reached an agreement to resolve the most important unresolved issue between Russia and Norway. We have been discussing this problem for 40 years," Stoltenberg said.

It is believed the demarcation of Russian-Norwegian maritime borders will lead to a boost in energy cooperation between the two countries.

Commenting on the agreement, the Norwegian prime minister said "this decision means the drawing of the border line as well the development of oil fields and fishing industry."

Both Russian and Norwegian ships have been detained in the disputed area on accusations of violating fishing regulations as maritime borders between the two countries remained undemarcated.

Stoltenberg also said Russia and Norway would introduce a visa-free travel regime for residents of the two countries' border territories in the near future.

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