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India, S Korea ink two MoUs to boost defence cooperation

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The Defence Minister, Shri A. K. Antony and his South Korean counterpart Kim Tae-young exchanging pleasantries at their talks, in Seoul on September 03, 2010. Photo: Defense Ministry

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and South Korea on Friday have entered into a five-year defence cooperation accord by signing two memorandums of understandings on sharing of military expertise and technology.

Defence Minister A K Antony and his Korean counterpart Kim Tae-Young signed the two agreements in Seoul during the former's two-day official visit there.

"Heralding a new chapter in the history of defence cooperation, India and South Korea have signed two landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to give a huge boost to the Strategic Partnership between the two countries," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a release from Seoul.

The two MoUs were signed at the end of nearly 90-minute intensive discussions between the delegations of the two countries, he said.

After the signing of the agreements, Antony said New Delhi would be happy to see the defence industry relationship to be "more than a buyer-seller relationship" and its further evolution into Transfer of Technology, joint production and joint Research and Development.

He expressed the hope that his visit would start a new chapter in the already close relationship between the two nations.

Kim, in his address, said the two MoUs would provide a "win-win scenario" for the two countries in a number of areas.

This was the first-ever visit of an India Defence Minister to South Korea.

Antony is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Navy Vice Admiral R K Dhowan, Army Lieutenant General K T Parnaik, DRDO's Dr Prahlada and Adviser to Defence Minister Sundaram Krishna.

The first MoU envisaged exchange of defence-related experience and information, mutual exchange and visits by military personnel and experts including civilian staff associated with defence services, military education and training and conduct of military exercises, exchange visits of ships and aircraft, as jointly decided between the two countries, Kar said.

The MoU also provided for cooperation in humanitarian assistance and international peace-keeping activities.

"The MoU will remain valid for a period of five years with provision for its extension by five more years," he said.

The second MoU was signed by the Chief Controller of Research and Development of DRDO Prahlada and Vice Commissioner of Defence Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) of South Korea Kwon Oh Bong.

To be operational under the overarching umbrella of India-South Korea Defence Agreement, the MoU aimed at identifying futuristic defence technology areas of mutual interest and pursuing Research and Development works in both the countries.

Co-development and co-production of defence products with Indian industry through DRDO by South Korean industry was part of the understanding.

"There will be joint Intellectual Property Rights on all the products developed through this mechanism. Some areas of immediate interest were marine systems, electronics and intelligence systems and these have been identified as priority tasks," Kar said.

Antony and Kim also discussed a wide range of security issues, both regional and global during their talks.

Antony said India and South Korea shared common perception of maintaining peace as well as ensuring safety and security of sea lanes of communication in the region.

He said regular exchanges towards ensuring maritime security was important to both countries, especially in securing vital energy supplies that pass through the Indian Ocean.

"It is of particular importance for like-minded countries working in the Gulf of Aden to coordinate efforts and also exchange information on the happenings in the area. We look forward to continued and enhanced cooperation between the navies of India and South Korea in this regard," he said.

On the regional security scenario in the Indian sub-continent, Antony said, "We live in a troubled neighbourhood. Some call it a fragile region. We have to maintain balance and restraint even in the face of grave challenges to our security."

He said India's intention was to develop friendly and cooperative relations with all our neighbours so that New Delhi can focus on its major development needs.

Antony said India looked at itself as an integral part of East Asia.

Noting that India was a founding member of East Asia Summit and as such, looked at the emerging architecture in East Asia as "open and inclusive," he said that was why India welcomed the decision of ASEAN Foreign Ministers to move towards the inclusion of the United States and Russia as members of the East Asia Summit.

"We look forward to working closely with South Korea in the emerging architecture in this part of the world," he added.

Earlier in the day, Antony, along with the delegation, visited the National Cemetery in Seoul and laid a wreath there, apart from inspecting, amid light drizzle, a colourful inter-services guard of honour presented by the South Korean Armed Forces at the Ministry of Defence headquarters.


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