"High North" to Play Vital Role

The Arctic Circle and Northern Europe are to play an important geopolitical roll as the polar ice caps melt, according to Democratic Congressman and President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, John Tanner, who has just been on a visit to Sweden.

Tanner was in the country to discuss the prospects of a new shipping lane in the Arctic Ocean should the caps melt enough, as unsolved border disputes and oil and gas fields under the sea could cause tension in the "High North" as the region is often known.

Sweden is also to be site of a huge military exercise on the 8th June, with over 2000 personnel, 50 planes and one aircraft carrier due to take part, even though Sweden isn't a NATO member.

Tanner praised Sweden's role in the current operations in Somalia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, but refused to be drawn on whether this country should join the millitary alliance.

"It's up to Sweden. The door is open, and you'd be very welcome" he told Swedish news agency TT.

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