South Korea, Australia agree to step up defense cooperation

SEOUL (Reuters): South Korea and Australia’s defense chiefs agreed on Tuesday to step up defense cooperation, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup met his Australian counterpart Richard Marles on the sidelines of the inaugural South Korea-Pacific Islands Summit in Seoul.

Lee expressed the South Korean military’s willingness to join the Indo-Pacific Endeavour, an Australian-led multinational military drill, as well as Operation Render Safe, activities by the Australian Defense Force to remove underwater mines in the Pacific.

The two countries agreed to hold working-level meetings as part of steps to revise a memorandum of understanding signed in 2011 aimed at enhancing defense industry cooperation.

Marles also met with South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and discussed joint efforts to expand cooperation with the Pacific Islands countries, a presidential spokesperson said.