India, South Korea ink two MOUs to boost defence cooperation

     India and South Korea on Friday inked two landmark Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) to give a huge boost to strategic defence cooperation between the two nations. The two MoUs were signed in the presence of Defence Minister A K Antony and his South Korean counterpart Kim Tae-young in Seoul . The first MoU envisages an exchange of defence-related experience and information, a mutual exchange of visits by military personnel and experts, including civilian staff associated with the defence services, military education and training and the conduct of military exercises. It also envisages an exchange of visits of ships and aircraft, as jointly decided between the two countries. The MoU aims to promote cooperation in humanitarian assistance and international peace keeping activities, and will remain valid for five years with a provision for extension for five more years. The Second MoU signed by the Chief Controller of Research and Development of DRDO, Dr Prahlada and Vice Commissioner, Defence Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) of South Korea, Kwon Oh Bong will seek to identify futuristic defence technology areas of mutual interest and pursuing of research and development works in both countries. Co- development and co-production of defence products with Indian industry through DRDO are also envisaged. There will be joint IPR on all the products developed through this mechanism. Some areas of immediate interest e.g., marine systems, electronics and intelligent systems have been identified as priority tasks. Speaking on the occasion, Antony said he hoped his visit will start a new chapter in the relationship between the two nations. " New Delhi will 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," said Antony . "The two MoUs signed today will provide a win-win scenario for the two countries in a number of areas," said Kim Tae-young. The talks between the two countries covered a wide range of security issues- both regional and global. " India and South Korea share 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 is important to both countries, especially in securing vital energy supplies that pass through the Indian Ocean," said Antony . "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 added. Commenting on the regional security scenario in the Indian subcontinent, 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." ". Our intention is to develop friendly and cooperative relations with all our neighbours so that we can focus on our major development needs'," he added. Antony said India looks at itself as an integral part of East Asia . " India is a founding member of East Asia Summit and as such, looks at the emerging architecture in East Asia as open and inclusive. 'That is why we welcome the decision of ASEAN Foreign Ministers to move towards the inclusion of the United States and Russia as members of the East Asia Summit," said Antony. "We look forward to working closely with South Korea in the emerging architecture in this part of the world'," he added. This morning, Antony along with the delegation drove down to the National Cemetery in Seoul and laid a wreath there. He also inspected, amid light drizzle, a traditional colourful inter-services guard of honour presented by the South Korean Armed Forces on arrival at the Ministry of Defence Head quarters During his two-day visit to South Korea , Antony is accompanied by a high-level delegation including the Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Vice Admiral RK Dhowan, Lt General KT Parnaik, Dr. Prahlada and Sundaram Krishna.

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