President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson of Iceland is currently in Alaska to give a speech at the opening of an international conference. The conference is on the importance of careful planning for the future shipping lanes slowly being created by melting Arctic ice.
“The conference bears the name ‘Think of the Bering Strait as the next Panama Canal’. The name signifies that the new shipping routes between Alaska in the west, and Russia, Norway and Iceland to the east could have as revolutionary impacts for the global economy and trade between different parts of the world as the Panama and Suez canals had when they opened,” a statement from the President’s office reads.
The conference is being attended by international affairs and business experts, as well as Alaska officials and many scientists and other interested parties. “Special emphasis will be placed on discussing the need for regulation and international treaties on these shipping routes, responses to likely pollution and environmental accidents, the construction of port facilities and the development of service infrastructure for container shipping. Energy issues, resource use and improved co-operation in the fields of safety and search & rescue will also be discussed,” conference literature states.
During the Icelandic President’s stay in Alaska he will also meet with Sean Parnell, the state governor, and other regional leaders — including Mead Treadwell, the deputy state governor, who has worked with President Grimsson for years on international Arctic affairs. The President will also hold formal meetings with several prominent conference delegates, Visir.is reported.