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More cooperation amid East-West chill

More cooperation amid East-West chill 04.09.2008 While defence cooperation between NATO and Russia is frozen, the Norwegian and Russian coast guards keep developing relations in the Barents Sea. This week, the Russian coast guard ship MGS Zapolyarie moored in the northern Norwegian port of Sortland.

The meeting between the two countries coast guards will have illegal fishing, personnel exchange and the development of a joint data tool on trawlers operating illegally in the Barents Sea.

Norwegian authorities did however fear that the Russians might cancel the meeting following the current chilly relations with NATO.

- It is important that this meeting, which has been planned for a long time, is held so that the cooperation can be brought further, state secretary in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Elisabeth Walaas says to NRK.

Head of the Norwegian Coast Guard, Steve Olsen, says to the broadcasting company that cooperation with Russia will only get more and more important in the years ahead.

- I am sure that this will be one of our most important priorities. We have enormous resources in the sea with oil, gas and fish, Mr. Olsen underlines. In addition, the North Pole ice is melting and we will see more commercial shipping in the High North, he adds.

The Norwegian-Russian meeting started in Tromsø on Tuesday. The coastguard representatives then proceeded to the coast guard base of Sortland. From the Russian side, the MGS Zapolyarie is participating, while the KV Harstad is Norways contribution.

Source: www.barentsobserver.com

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