Danish FM expects nations making Arctic claims to respect int'l rules

Denmark's foreign minister said Wednesday he expects countries around the North Pole to respect international rules when settling their territorial claims in the Arctic region. Ministers from Russia, the US, Norway, Canada and Denmark will meet in Greenland next week to discuss sovereignty issues in the Arctic. "We have a need to send a common political signal to both our populations and the rest of the world that the five coastal states will address the opportunities and the challenges in a responsible manner," Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller told reporters in Copenhagen. Last year, a Russian flag was planted under the North Pole ice during a scientific expedition that heated up the controversy over an area that a US study suggests may contain as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Canada has announced plans to build a new army training center and a deep-water port within contested Arctic waters. Norway, the US and Denmark also have claims in the vast region. "Whoever plants flags up there doesn't change anything. ... South Africa can also plant a flag," Moeller said, jokingly.