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S. Korea, China agree to joint research in Antarctica

South Korea and China have agreed to strengthen their maritime cooperation that will include the mutual use of their assets in the Antarctic for joint research, the South Korean government said Friday.

The agreement came at the latest bilateral talks on maritime cooperation held in Beijing on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

At this week's meeting, the 12th of its kind, "the two sides agreed to pursue a joint survey of the sea in the polar region, using the two countries' icebreakers, and to set up a wide observation system in the Antarctic, using the countries' research stations there," the ministry said in a press release.

Currently, South Korea operates two research stations -- the King Sejong Station in the western part of the Antarctic and the Jangbogo Station in southeastern part.

Combining South Korea's assets and abilities with those of China's three research stations will allow both countries to monitor climate change and other events in most parts of the Antarctic, the ministry said.

The countries have also agreed to boost their cooperation in deep-sea mining.

"In the area of resources on ocean floors, the two countries agreed to further strengthen their cooperation to jointly deal with the move by the International Seabed Authority to establish regulations on sea mining and to prepare for the start of commercial mining of ocean resources," the ministry said.

To this end, the countries have also agreed to boost their cooperation in developing manned or unmanned deep submergence research or rescue vehicles, it added. (Yonhap News)