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World

Think tank chides US on Arctic plan

WASHINGTON — A new US strategy for the Arctic region has received a skeptical response from a think tank that says the plan amounts to a ‘‘lengthy wish list’’ with few specifics.

The tepid feedback from the Washington-based Arctic Institute comes as Secretary of State John Kerry traveled on Monday to Sweden for a meeting of foreign ministers focused on Arctic issues.

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Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan also are on Kerry’s agenda for discussion with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, according to the State Department.

The Arctic Institute praised the new White House strategy for at least outlining US priorities in the icy region. Unveiled last week, the blueprint vows to protect American security, safeguard the environment, and strengthen ties with foreign nations as the United States moves forward in the Arctic.

But the think tank said the strategy is missing examples of many specific projects to be undertaken and lacks assessments of future US capabilities in the Arctic Circle. It also rapped the plan for failing to commit funding plans for the strategy.

The White House last week said it does not expect to receive more funding for the strategy.

‘‘Without a clear budgetary plan, this strategy becomes nothing more than a lengthy wish list,’’ said institute researcher Mihaela David. ‘‘Despite a good-faith effort at articulating policy priorities and formulating mutually reinforcing objectives, the US Arctic strategy remains as elusive [as] a mirage on the Arctic ice sheet.’’

Global warming has melted sea ice to levels that have given rise to what experts describe as a kind of gold rush scramble to the Arctic. US officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits.

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