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South Korea vows to strengthen defence ties with Australia

Seoul, July 11 (IANS) South Korean Vice Defence Minister Kim Seon-ho on Thursday vowed to strengthen defence cooperation with Australia, his office said, amid growing arms industry ties between the two countries.

Kim made the remark during a bilateral defence conference in Canberra, which discussed key threats in the Indo-Pacific region and ways to bolster cooperation between the militaries and defence industries of the two countries, Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korean defence companies, including shipbuilders Hanwha Ocean and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, also participated in the conference to feature their products.

"Amid a grave global security environment, (the conference) presented an opportunity to further strengthen relations between South Korea and Australia," Kim said. "(We) will make further efforts to strengthen bilateral defence and arms industry cooperation."

The two countries have bolstered defence ties in recent years, with Canberra signing major deals to purchase South Korean weapons systems, including the Redback infantry fighting vehicle and K9 howitzers.

South Korea has sought closer security ties with Australia, with their top diplomats and defence chiefs discussing Seoul's potential participation in part of the AUKUS security partnership in May.

The United States, Britain and Australia launched a security pact known as AUKUS in 2021 to counter China's assertiveness.

Seoul has welcomed considerations of its possible inclusion in Pillar 2 of the partnership, which covers cooperation in advanced technologies.

--IANS

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