Iceland’s President and his South-Korean counterpart agreed Monday to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries in the Arctic region.
This is reported by the English-language daily The Korea Times.
According to South Koreas presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, the move could help to develop a maritime route in the Arctic Ocean that would save time and costs for shipping companies.
The sea route is a shipping lane linking Asia with Europe through the straits between the New Siberian Islands.
Will discuss Arctic policies
The agreement between Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and Park Geun-hye was reached during a summit between the two presidents, at the South Korean presidential office.
The two leaders also agreed to push for a consultative meeting to discuss Iceland and South Koreas arctic policies. According to a statement from the South Korean presidential office, such a meeting will be arranged early next year.
Iceland’s president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is one of the architects behind the Icelandic-American construction Arctic Circle, a yearly High North conference that was recently held in Reykjavik.
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At last year's conference, one of South Korea’s largest shipbuilders entered the stage at Harpa conference center, stating that neither weather or other conditions would be a problem for the company’s icebreakers.
Observer status since 2013
Iceland is a member of the Arctic Council, and in 2013 South Korea gained permanent observer status on the council.
Currently, South Korean ships use the conventional shipping route through the Indian Ocean and Suez Canal to reach Europe, a journey that takes about 40 days. In comparison, Arctic routes can lower the duration of travel by about 10 days.
These days, the route can only be used between July and October and vessels need help from icebreakers, but it is expected to be available all year round by 2030 due to the thawing of the North Pole.
During Grimssons visit, the two leaders also agreed to expand bilateral trade and investment.