|Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R front) and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (2nd L front) visit crew members of Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, in Hobart, Australia, Nov. 18, 2014. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)
HOBART, Australia, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- China and Australia inked a memorandum of understanding here Tuesday pledging to strengthen bilateral Antarctic cooperation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott witnessed the signing of the deal in this port city in Tasmania state, Australia's gateway to Antarctica.
The two leaders also spoke via live video with scientists of both countries stationed at the South Pole, respectively from Australia's Davis Station and China's Zhongshan Station.
Scientific research in the Antarctic region is of great significance and benefits the human race, Xi said, adding that China's expeditions have contributed to the peaceful utilization of Antarctic resources.
Speaking highly of the comprehensive and in-depth collaboration between Chinese and Australian Antarctic researchers over the past three decades, Xi said China is willing to continue working with Australia and the international community to better understand, protect and utilize Antarctica.
For his part, Abbott said he looks forward to closer bilateral cooperation in Antarctic research.
After the signing ceremony, Xi boarded Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, which is berthing at Hobart port for replenishment.
The vessel, which set out from Shanghai late last month, is undertaking China's 31st Antarctic expedition. It is scheduled to return in April next year.
Aboard Xuelong, Xi visited an exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of China's polar expeditions. He also talked with crew members and wished their ongoing mission a success.
The Chinese president is on a state visit to Australia after attending a Group of Twenty summit in Brisbane. Australia is the first leg of his ongoing three-nation tour, which will later take him to New Zealand and Fiji.