On April 20, 2012, visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with his Icelandic counterpart Johanna Sigurdardottir in Reykjavik.
Wen said although the two countries are far apart geographically, they have always respected and treated each other in a friendly way and supported each other's major concerns. China is happy to see that the Icelandic government and people have overcome difficulties caused by the global financial crisis and steered the economy back to stability and improvement, Wen said, adding that China is confident of Iceland's development. China, the premier said, highly values the relationship with Iceland, supports Iceland's important role in regional and international issues, and stands ready to make concerted efforts with Iceland to uplift bilateral exchanges and cooperation to higher levels.
China will speed up negotiation with Iceland on a bilateral free 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. In addition, China and Iceland also vowed to enhance bilateral cooperation in geothermal energy and related scientific research and jointly develop the third-party market. Both sides agreed to carry out close consultations on Arctic affairs and conduct pragmatic cooperation in the fields of polar regions, oceans, environment and shipping, to promote peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic region. Both sides should also strengthen exchanges on education, tourism, culture and sports and enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
Sigurdardottir said Iceland and China share sound relations and bilateral economic and trade cooperation has witnessed rapid development. Iceland is undergoing a series of reforms and strives to achieve economic recovery and growth. She expressed gratitude for China's assistance in helping her country ride out the financial crisis, saying Iceland sees China as a trustworthy friend. Sigurdardottir said Iceland regards Wen's visit as an opportunity to accelerate the free trade negotiation and advance exchanges and cooperation in trade, investment, geothermal energy, culture and other areas so as to keep closer bilateral ties. She 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.
After their talks, the two leaders attended the signing ceremony of several documents covering bilateral cooperation in Arctic studies among other fields.