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Interview: Icelandic president calls Chinese arctic expedition "milestone"

(Xinhua)

08:09, August 22, 2012

REYKJAVIK, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese icebreaker's Arctic expedition and visits to Iceland are a "milestone" not only for the two countries but for the entire mankind, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"The Snow Dragon's voyage to Iceland from China is a symbol of friendship and cooperation between the two countries," Grimsson said, referring to the icebreaker. "I believe that the Snow Dragon's visit will become a new pillar for bilateral cooperation."

In Grimsson's view, the Arctic Ocean may be the most important region in the 21st century.

With the sea ice that has sealed the region for centuries melting, an Arctic sea route can be soon sketched out.

The new sea route will significantly shorten the distance between Asia and the West by sea, something the Suez canal has done 100 years ago, Grimsson said.

Therefore, such a northeast sea way will have a "revolutionary impact" on global trade and the shipping industry, he said.

Amid these changes, Iceland serves much more than as a scenic viewing spot, Grimsson said.

Iceland will effectively become a terminal of the sea way, providing freshwater and emergency rescue services, he said.

Iceland could also become a "laboratory for the Earth", where scientists can observe oceanic currents, glacier melting, fishing ground movements and volcanic actions, he added.
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