By Steve Scherer and Kanishka Singh
OTTAWA (Reuters) -NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Canada next week to focus on Arctic security amid climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said on Friday.
Stoltenberg will travel to Canada from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26 and will be accompanied by Trudeau during the visit.
On Thursday he will stop in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, a hamlet in the far north and one of the main stops for vessels traversing the Arctic Ocean’s Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
On Friday, he will travel to a Canadian jet fighter base in Cold Lake, Alberta, to discuss plans to modernize NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian North American defense organization, the statement said.
“Given the locations, there will be a significant focus on the Arctic and how climate change is affecting security,” a government spokesperson said.
Stoltenberg has made trips to Europe’s Arctic this year, mainly to show support for Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance. Nearly 40% of Canada’s land mass is considered Arctic, while Russia stretches over 53% of the Arctic Ocean coastline, according to the Arctic Council.
In June, Canada said it would invest C$4.9 billion ($3.8 billion) over the next six years to modernize NORAD, which experts say is in dire need of upgrades.
The more-than six-decade-old system detects security threats to North America, and its early-warning radar for the polar region dates back to the late 1980s.
($1 = 1.2991 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Kanishka Singh in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)