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Canada's PM Asserts Country's Arctic Sovereignty

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper observed military exercises in the Arctic Wednesday and vowed to protect what he described as Canada's sovereignty in a region rich in natural resources.

Mr. Harper took the controls of a helicopter in the northern territory of Nunavut. He later boarded a navy frigate and a submarine to watch anti-submarine warfare operations in Frobisher Bay.

The prime minister called the month-long operation (Operation Nanook) the "most ambitious ever," with 700 military personnel on land, sea and air taking part. Canada holds Arctic sovereignty exercises every year.

Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are among the other countries seeking jurisdiction over the Arctic seabed below the North Pole, which is believed to hold huge energy reserves.

During Mr. Harper's yearly trip to the Arctic, he warned that Canada will defend its interests in the North.

While visiting Nunavut's capital city, Iqaluit, Tuesday, Mr. Harper announced the creation of a new economic development agency specifically targeting the vast northern territory.

Scientists say climate change has led to the melting of Arctic ice caps and glaciers, which could eventually ease access to huge stores of natural resources.

Separately, representatives from Canada are attending a three-day conference in Russia on Arctic Security.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.