Denmark agrees to give Greenland front seat at Arctic table

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen arrives for a face-to-face EU summit in Brussels, May 24, 2021. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN, June 10 (Reuters) - Greenland and the Faroe Islands will get a more active and prominent role in the Arctic Council, a high-level forum of Arctic states, the Danish prime minister said on Thursday following a meeting between the heads of the three nations.

Greenland and the Faroes Islands are sovereign territories under the Kingdom of Denmark, but Copenhagen handles most foreign and security matters.

"We want to give, on behalf of the Kingdom of Denmark, a more prominent and active role to Greenland and the Faroe Islands regarding the Arctic Council," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press briefing.

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The Arctic Council, a high-level forum of eight Arctic states, including the United States and Russia, was established in 1996 to promote cooperation between the members on Arctic issues that are not related to security.

Under the new agreement, Greenland would be first to speak at future council meetings, followed by the Faroe Islands and ending with Denmark, while Greenland would also be the main signatory to any declarations.

"We will get a greater and more central role, which has long been the wish in Greenland," said Greenland Prime Minister Mute Bourup Egede, who took the helm of the nation's new government in April.

The Nordic nations also agreed to establish a new committee consisting of relevant officials from the three countries, aimed at improving cooperation on foreign and security issues.

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Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard Editing by Gareth Jones

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