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China, Iceland pledge close consultations on Arctic affairs

(Xinhua)

09:42, April 21, 2012

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) meets with Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir in Reykjavik, Iceland, April 20, 2012. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

REYKJAVIK, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Icelandic counterpart Johanna Sigurdardottir met here Friday and agreed to carry out close consultations on Arctic affairs.

China, Wen said, is ready to conduct pragmatic cooperation with Iceland in the fields of polar regions, oceans, environment and shipping, and to promote peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic region.

Sigurdardottir said Iceland backs China to be an observer of the Arctic Council, supports China's participation in the peaceful exploration in the region, and is willing to further boost cooperation with China.

Established in 1996, the Arctic Council includes the five Nordic countries, namely Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as Canada, Russia and the United States, plus representatives of six indigenous peoples' organizations in the Arctic.

In addition, China and Iceland also vowed to enhance bilateral cooperation in geothermal energy and related scientific research.

Meanwhile, Beijing will speed up negotiation with Reykjavik on a bilateral trade agreement with the aim of realizing free trade next year, Wen said, pledging to expand mutual investment and ensure success of major cooperation projects.

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