India, South Korea Discuss Ways To “Strengthen” And “Deepen” Defence Ties

New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI): India and South Korea on Friday explored new avenues to further expand their defence and military ties, and reaffirmed support to multilateral initiatives to promote lasting peace and stability in the region and beyond.
A host of issues, including geo-political developments in the region and ways to boost bilateral strategic partnership, figured in the wide-ranging talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his South Korean counterpart Suh Wook.

“They reaffirmed their support to multilateral initiatives to promote lasting peace and stability in the region and beyond,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

China’s military assertiveness in the region is learnt to have figured in the deliberations.

“As brought out by the Raksha Mantri during his interaction with his counterpart, the bilateral relations between both the countries are set to grow further and the meeting between them will give it the necessary impetus to take it to the next level,” the ministry said in the statement.

Official sources said that there were discussions on joint development of military hardware and sharing of technology to expand the existing cooperation.

It said the talks explored new domains of bilateral defence cooperation and avenues to strengthen the long-standing bilateral defence partnership.

In a tweet, Mr Singh described the talks as “excellent”.

“Had excellent deliberations with the Republic of Korea’s Defence Minister, Mr Suh Wook, in New Delhi today. We discussed ways to strengthen and further deepen defence cooperation between India and RoK,” he said.

The ministry said Mr Singh and Mr Wook acknowledged that defence cooperation between the two sides has broadened significantly in scale and scope across the tri-services and also in the domain of defence technology and industry.

“Both the countries have also found common ground on several multilateral fora and engagements,” it said.

South Korea has been a major supplier of weapons and military equipment to India. In 2019, the two countries finalised a roadmap for cooperation in joint production of various land and naval systems.

The South Korean minister arrived in India on Thursday on a three-day visit with a focus on boosting bilateral defence and military cooperation.

In the talks, the two ministers exchanged views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the defence and security engagements as well as best practices followed by the armed forces to deal with the pandemic.

The ministry said Mr Singh lauded the “stellar contribution” of South Korea in pandemic mitigation efforts.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria were part of the Indian delegation at the talks.

Earlier, Mr Singh and Mr Wook jointly inaugurated the India-Korea friendship park at the Delhi Cantonment.

The ministry said the park is a symbol of close relations between both the countries and acknowledges the contribution of the Indian Army’s medical mission during the Korean War.

Mr Wook also felicitated Korean War Veterans Association of India general secretary Anil Malhotra on the occasion.