"My visit to China is a successful and historic one," Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said in Beijing Wednesday in a Xinhua Interview.
The 62-year-old president arrived here Monday, starting his seven-day tour. This is his first visit since taking office as president in August 1996.
"We explored ten to fifteen fields of cooperation, instead of two or three. This is why I say the visit is a historic one," said Grimsson, who met with President Hu Jintao on Tuesday afternoon.
The two leaders signed four agreements on environmental protection, earthquake research, aviation and telecommunications after their talks, and agreed to start feasibility research on building a free trade area. Iceland also recognized China's market economy status, the earliest to do so among West European countries.
Grimsson listed four areas with the most potential for bilateral cooperation: use of geothermal heating, aviation, telecommunication and fishery.
According to him, the two countries have decided to set up a US$20-million joint venture to build the world's largest geothermal district heating system in Xianyang, a city in the northwest Shaanxi Province. The system will provide heating for 100,000 to 150,000 residents.
"Iceland has the best geothermal technology, which can help China to solve its energy shortage and coal-based pollution," said Grimsson.
He also mentioned that an Icelandic aviation company has signed a US$15-million contract with the Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Co. Beijing, saying the cooperation will reinforce the Icelandic aviation industry's cutting edge in international competition.
"I'm sure this is only the starting point," Grimsson said, adding Iceland and China will have broad and prosperous cooperation in the future.
(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2005)