Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will assert U.S. interest in the Arctic, where the prospects for abundant oil, gas and new trade routes has been likened to a modern-day gold rush, when she visits the region on Saturday.
As the sea ice recedes with climate change, huge oil and gas fields are adding vast amounts to global reserves, while sea passages are opening for longer periods each year and cutting thousands of miles off trade routes between Europe and Asia.
Clinton will visit Tromsoe, a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle, as part of an 8-day trip to Scandinavia, the Caucasus and Turkey.
She follows a host of high-profile international visitors as the region enjoys unprecedented political and economic power.
Norway has moved its military operational headquarters into the Arctic Circle, China has development plans for Iceland and countries, including Russia, are laying claim to exploration rights in the once pristine Barents Sea.