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Defense minister visits UAE, India to expand ties

Defense Minister Suh Wook. (Yonhap)
Defense Minister Suh Wook. (Yonhap)
South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook is visiting the UAE and India this week to expand exchanges, the Ministry of National Defense said Monday.

From Monday to Wednesday, Suh is staying in the UAE and will meet with his UAE counterpart, Mohammed al-Bowardi, and other key military officials to discuss strengthening cooperation. Suh will also visit South Korea’s special warfare unit deployed there.

The UAE asked the South to field a special operation team from the unit in 2010, when its Crown Prince made a trip here and saw the unit’s demonstration of its combat skills. The team has been helping the UAE military with building training programs for its special forces.

From Thursday to Saturday, Suh will visit India and meet with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, to talk about working together on military technologies. Suh will take part in the opening ceremony of the Korea-India Friendship Park there. The two countries agreed to build it in 2019.

India provided the largest medical units to South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. A monument at the park commemorates those who sacrificed their lives in the conflict that still leaves both South and North Korea divided.

Observers have speculated that Seoul and New Delhi could address the Quad alliance comprising the US, Australia, India and Japan. The group is a US-led democratic coalition to balance China’s growing military and economic power. It held its first virtual summit on March 12.

South Korea is trying to balance maintaining a security alliance with the US to rein in aggression from North Korea and keeping its economic ties to China, hoping not to upset either side.

Suh has said Washington did not ask Seoul to share military intelligence with the Quad countries during talks with his US counterpart the previous week. The US secretaries of defense and state were in Korea to discuss security policies in their first overseas trip.

By Choi Si-young (