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Australia to bolster defence ties with India, South Korea

Australia has agreed to enhance defence and security co-operation with South Korea and India as part of a diplomatic push by Canberra to advance relationships with ‘close friends and strategic partners' in the Indo-Pacific region amid concerns about China's growing assertiveness in the region.

In the final leg of their three-country Asian tour for ‘2+2' meetings with their counterparts in India, Indonesia, and South Korea, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne met in Seoul with their South Korean counterparts Suh Wook and Chung Eui-yong.

During their 13 September meeting the two sides agreed to increase joint exercises, training, port calls, and aircraft visits to improve “interoperability, enhance mutual understanding, and build solid people-to-people links between the RoK Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force”, according to a joint statement.

Furthermore, the ministers recognised South Korea's inaugural participation in this year's ‘Talisman Sabre' exercise and expressed their intention to build upon this in future iterations of the exercise.

The two sides also agreed to explore “new institutional foundations to promote enhanced future defence co-operation”, including in the fields of defence science and technology, defence industry and materiel, and bilateral defence co-operation on peacekeeping operations.

In this context Suh and Dutton welcomed the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on mutual logistics support, as well as the 2019 MoU on defence research, development, testing, and evaluation, which has enabled research and technology co-operation between the two countries.

Moreover, the two sides reiterated concerns about North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, recognised the importance of their respective alliances with the United States in contributing to their own national security and reaffirmed their commitment to deepen partnerships with Pacific Island countries.

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