Officials from Arctic nations meet amid drilling concerns

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Tillerson said the Council has proven to be an indispensable forum in which the Arctic states can pursue cooperation, but added: "We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view..." High-level officials from the world's eight Arctic nations will meet in. Fairbanks, Alaska, will host a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council on Thursday.

The Arctic Council, he said, will continue to be an important platform as the Trump administration deliberates.

Although Tillerson is among the Trump Cabinet officials and advisers advocating that the United States has more to gain than lose by remaining a part of the deal known as the Paris accord, he can not promise some of the nations most engaged on the issue that Trump will see it that way.

The Arctic Council is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups.

Trump is expected to make a decision on Paris after a Group of Seven summit at the end of May.

Former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state John F. Kerry made climate change a central issue for the two-year US chairmanship of the group made up of the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.

The Obama administration had emphasized climate change and scientific research during the two-year US chairmanship.

Along with the United States, the council is made up of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

But he says the US will not rush to make a decision on climate change policy. "We'd heard. that there would likely be a significant USA effort to redline or even remove entirely the Paris and climate language", said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the talks.

I think there was probably a missed opportunity in communicating to the US that the country is an Arctic nation.

Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has acknowledged that the climate is changing and is said to be among those in the administration urging that the U.S. remain committed to the Paris agreement. "Their achievements, most notably the GLACIER Conference and the initiatives that followed, constituted a considerable leap forward in America's commitments to Alaska, to the Arctic and to the Council".

David Balton, a deputy assistant secretary of State, said other accomplishments included an agreement for scientific cooperation among Arctic nations, an assessment of improvements needed for better telecommunications, and implementation of a database of ships passing through the Arctic. Soini said Arctic resources and transportation routes may attract interest.

Tillerson arrived late Wednesday afternoon in Fairbanks and immediately held a meeting with a congressional delegation as well as Arctic representatives from Alaska's indigenous people. Protesters gathered in a city park nearby to denounce the presence of Tillerson, who was president of Exxon Mobil Corp.

Mia Bennett: Its goals as Chair were to improve economic and living conditions for Arctic communities; Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; and then importantly addressing climate change.

"My message for Rex Tillerson is: Alaska shouldn't be for sale for what's in our earth", said Hannah Hill, 36, who works at a Fairbanks soup kitchen. "And that is science".

He suggested Tillerson "should get away from his cronies in the oil business and start listening to the people of Alaska, for instance, and the people of the world who are so interested in these issues".

Former President Obama made climate change the top issue when the United States took the lead of the Arctic Council in 2015.