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S. Korean, Australian leaders agree to further expand defense cooperation

May 19, 2023 - 20:50 By Ji Da-gyum
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (R) and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shake hands during their summit at a hotel in Hiroshima, Japan, on Friday. (Yonhap)

South Korea's and Australia's leaders on Friday committed to stepping up defense and arms industry cooperation amid North Korea’s persisting provocations, the South Korean presidential office said.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese held an in-person bilateral summit from 5:30 p.m. local time on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

Both sides agreed to "further expand defense and arms industry cooperation, building on the achievements thus far," presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon said in a statement.

Albanese expressed hopes that the two countries would be able to "flesh out specific plans to enhance bilateral defense cooperation" on the occasion of the visit by Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles to South Korea next week, Lee added.

Albanese also pointed out the necessity of "increasing the number of combined military exercises between the two countries" in the Indo-Pacific region.

"The two leaders concurred on the need for closer cooperation, recognizing that North Korea's unprecedented provocations pose a serious threat not only to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula but also to the international community as a whole," Lee said.

"The two leaders also committed to closely cooperating in promoting peace in the region as countries that share the values of freedom."

Yoon said South Korea intends to enhance strategic communication with Australia, which he described as a key like-minded country, in implementing the government's Indo-Pacific strategy.

Albanese provided an affirmative response, acknowledging Yoon's leadership in improving relations between South Korea and Japan, and leading peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two leaders also agreed that South Korea and Australia, with their complementary economic structures, should "continue their cooperation to maintain stable trade in essential strategic minerals necessary for the development of future advanced industries and to ensure the stability of the global supply chain."

Yoon and Albanese shared the view that the two countries have deepened their cooperation in various fields after upgrading their ties to a "comprehensive strategic partnership" in 2021.