US refused to sign Arctic agreement over climate change wording: report

US refused to sign Arctic agreement over climate change wording: report
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Senators say Trump using loophole to push through Saudi arms sale Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran MORE left a Tuesday meeting of the Arctic Council without signing an agreement to manage resources due to a disagreement over how to describe climate change, Reuters reported.

The council brings together the eight nations that border the Arctic, tasking them with crafting a two-year agreement for sustainably developing oil and gas in the region in light of the challenges posed by global warming.

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But the U.S. chose not to sign on to the agreement because of misgivings over describing climate change as a serious threat to the Arctic, sources told Reuters.

Representatives left the meeting without a signed agreement for the first time since the council was formed in 1996.

“A majority of us regarded climate change as a fundamental challenge facing the Arctic and acknowledged the urgent need to take mitigation and adaptation actions and to strengthen resilience,” Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said in a statement.

Instead of an agreement, representatives from the eight countries signed a statement committing each to sustainable development and protection of the Arctic.

Global warming is rapidly changing the region, as melting ice opens up new shipping pathways and makes it easier to explore oil and gas reserves as well as mining of zinc, iron and other metals.

U.S. officials told Reuters they were hesitant to sign the final version of the agreement given actions by China and Russia to assert rights over resources and trade routes.

“Collective goals ... are rendered meaningless, even counterproductive as soon as one nation fails to comply,” Pompeo told the council.