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[Foreign and Defense Ministers (2+2) Meeting] ROK, Australia discuss forward-looking cooperation in national defense and defense...

ROK-Australia foreign and defense ministers (2+2) meeting held in Seoul
Minister Suh Wook emphasized Australia's importance as a security partner
Minister Dutton gave a positive assessment of combined exercise between the two countries
ROK Air Force will take part in ‘Pitch Black,’ to be presided over by Australia in 2022

ROK-Australia foreign and defense ministers (2+2)

On September 13, Minister of National Defense Suh Wook held a defense ministers meeting between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Australia with his Australian counterpart Peter Craig Dutton at the ministry building in Yongsan, Seoul, where they discussed ways to develop bilateral cooperation on national defense and the defense industry, as well as the regional security situation, including on the Korean Peninsula. Dutton visited the ROK to take part in the 5th ROK-Australia foreign and defense ministers (2+2) meeting held that day. 

Welcoming Dutton, who was visiting Korea on his first overseas tour after being inaugurated as defense minister, Suh stressed the importance of Australia as the ROK’s security cooperation partner, saying “we co-hold the two-plus-two meeting of foreign and defense ministers with Australia, as well as with the United States (US).”

Citing the fact that the ROK had updated the bilateral ties to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ at the ROK-Australia summit held this June on the sidelines of the G7 meeting, Suh assessed that this meeting reflected the trend of strengthening bilateral strategic cooperation which the two countries have been pushing for in the areas of foreign affairs and national defense. Dutton replied to Suh that the defense ministers meeting was perfectly timed. 

Dutton also gave a positive assessment of the improvement of interoperability through bilateral and multilateral combined exercises between the ROK and Australia, despite the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The ROK Navy first took part in ‘Talisman Sabre,’ a combined exercise jointly held by Australia and the United States Indo-Pacific Command last summer. The ROK Air Force will also be participating for the first time in ‘Pitch Black,’ an Air Force combined exercise in the Indo-Pacific region to be presided over by Australia in 2022. The ROK troops and Australian troops jointly take part in seven combined exercises every year. 

The two sides shared the assessment that bilateral defense cooperation has been expanded both in quality and quantity since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation in 2011, and agreed to begin a discussion to establish a new, forward-looking institutional groundwork to reflect such trend.

“Today’s bilateral meeting will serve as a venue to share the assessment of the recent security-related challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and discuss how the defense ministries and armed forces of the two countries can cooperate with each other to create a stable security environment in the region,” Suh said.

Responding to Suh’s explanation about the recent security situation on the Korean Peninsula, “Dutton promised that Australia will continue to support the ROK’s effort to get involved in the North issue, expressing his expectations on the resumption of the US-North Korea dialogue and the improvement of inter-Korean relations,” an official from the ministry said in a statement.

“The two sides also exchanged opinions on pending issues related to the defense industry that are under discussion. Significantly, Suh expressed his wish that bilateral cooperation on the defense industry can make substantial progress so that it can be expanded in a reciprocal manner,” the ministry official added.

김철환 By Chul-Hwan, Kim < >

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