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S. Korea, India agree on closer military ties in high-level talks

South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook (R) and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh pose for a picture in New Delhi on Friday, in this photo provided by Suh’s office. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook (R) and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh pose for a picture in New Delhi on Friday, in this photo provided by Suh’s office. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The defense chiefs of South Korea and India held talks on Friday and discussed ways to further boost exchanges and cooperation in the security and arms industry fields, Seoul's defense ministry said.

The meeting between Minister Suh Wook and his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, took place in New Delhi, as Suh is on a three-day visit to the country following his trip to the United Arab Emirates.

During the talks, Suh explained his government's peace process involving North Korea, and Singh voiced support for Seoul's policy for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and permanent peace, according to the ministry.

"The two ministers pledged to reinvigorate defense exchanges and cooperation which have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic by holding diverse regular meetings such as a 'two plus two' foreign and defense ministerial meeting," the ministry said in a release.

They also vowed to expand ties in such diverse areas as cyber, space and maritime issues, it added.

Suh and Singh also discussed ways to enhance their ties in the defense industry, and Suh asked for India's special interest in such export items as South Korea's Biho system, or the K-30 anti-aircraft defense system, and minesweepers.

The two ministers also "shared the need to establish a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region," according to the release.

The promotion of a "free, open rules-based order" is a key agenda item of the US-led Quad forum that involves Japan, Australia and India, and some speculated that Seoul's potential joining of the coalition could be on the table during the meeting this time.

South Korean officials, however, said that Suh and Singh talked about universal values, and the Quad issue was not discussed.

Ahead of the meeting, Suh attended a ceremony to mark the official opening of the "Indo-Korean Friendship Park" in New Delhi, which was established upon the agreement of their leaders in 2019.

A monument set up at the park to mark the sacrifice and commitment of Indian troops during the 1950-53 Korean War was also unveiled, according to the ministry.

"Minister Singh noted that it is the first time for India to create a friendship park with a specific country. So, this park is a symbol of the wide-range cooperation between South Korea and India," the ministry said.

On Saturday, Suh plans to visit India's 60th Parachute Field Ambulance Platoon to express gratitude for their service during the Korean War. Members of the unit took care of 220,000 soldiers and civilians at that time, according to Seoul government data.

Suh is to return home on Sunday.
(Yonhap)
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