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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Deputy Secretary Talbott
Remarks at Barents Euro-Arctic Council Ministerial, Lulea, Sweden
January 20, 1998

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Thank you, Madame Chairman. I'll add my thanks to those already expressed for your skillful and gracious leadership of this organization. The United States supports the Barents Council because it champions two principles that we believe should guide all the organizations that make up the superstructure of the new Europe and the new Transatlantic Community.

First, there is the principle of inclusiveness. In its membership and in its activities, the Barents Council opens doors where before there were walls and other barriers; it crosses geopolitical boundaries, bridges political divides, and heals historical wounds. At the same time, it has reached out to form ties with the rest of Europe and with North America and Japan as well. Thus, this Council represents the importance of pursuing regional integration in the context -- and in support -- of transregional and global integration. My Polish colleague put this point more succinctly.

Second, there is the principle of pragmatism -- of practical utility at the grassroots level.

My government hopes to continue and strengthen its support in several ways.

In the realm of economic development, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, in partnership with Finland's Guarantee Board, is helping to reduce the risks for American and Finnish companies that want to invest in northwest Russia.

In the area of cross-border crime, the U.S. Government's law enforcement agencies are prepared to provide technical assistance in combating problems such as car theft, money laundering, and drug trafficking.

In the critical area of public health, experts from our Centers for Disease Control, based in Atlanta, are actively engaged in a Swedish-led effort to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis in northwest Russia.

Last, and certainly not least, in the area of the environment we are committed to improving nuclear waste management. The United States has been engaged in a variety of cooperative assistance projects for the last 2 years. Hence, the presence here of my friend and colleague from our Environmental Protection Agency, Bill Nitze. Secretary Albright has asked me to use this occasion to announce that we are prepared to contribute an additional $500,000 toward the construction of a prototype containment vessel in Murmansk for the interim storage of damaged fuel from nuclear naval and civilian vessels. We hope that other countries with resources and relevant expertise will join us in this initiative.

In these and other ways, Madame Chairman, the U.S. Government will continue to support the Barents Council in its effort to create a sense of neighborhood in this corner of the world. We do so both because the Council is a promising success story in its own right and because it is a model of subregional cooperation and integration for the rest of the world.

In closing, let me note that if Secretary Albright allows me to attend the next meeting of the Council in Norway, I hope to hitch a ride with Lloyd Axworthy in traveling across the Polar icecap.

[End of Document]

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