Arctic claimants say they will obey international law
Five Arctic coastal nations agreed on Wednesday to let the U.N. rule on conflicting territorial claims on the region's seabed, which may hold up to one fourth of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbon reserves.
"We affirmed our commitment to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told a news conference.
Ministers from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States met in Greenland for a two-day summit to discuss sovereignty over the Arctic Ocean seabed.
Under the 1982 U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, coastal states own the seabed beyond existing 200-nautical mile (370-km) zones if it is part of a continental shelf of shallower waters. The rules aim to fix shelves' outer limits on a clear geological basis, but have created a tangle of overlapping Arctic claims.