India and South Korea today signed MOUs For five-year defence cooperation by signing two memorandums ofunderstandings on sharing of military expertise and technology.
Defence minister A K Antony and his Korean counterpart Kim Tae-Youngsigned the two agreements in Seoul during the former's two-day officialvisit there.
"Heralding a new chapter in the history of defence cooperation, Indiaand South Korea today signed two landmark Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) to give a huge boost to the Strategic Partnership between the twocountries," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in arelease from Seoul.
The two MoUs were signed at the end of nearly 90-minute intensivediscussions 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 morethan a buyer-seller relationship" and its further evolution intoTransfer of Technology, joint production and joint Research andDevelopment.
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 DefenceSecretary Pradeep Kumar, Navy vice admiral RK Dhowan, Army lieutenantgeneral KT Parnaik, DRDO's Dr Prahlada and Adviser to Defence MinisterSundaram Krishna.
The first MoU envisaged exchange ofdefence-related experience and information, mutual exchange and visitsby military personnel and experts including civilian staff associatedwith defence services, military education and training and conduct ofmilitary exercises, exchange visits of ships and aircraft, as jointlydecided 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 andDevelopment of DRDO Prahlada and Vice Commissioner of DefenceAcquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) of South Korea Kwon Oh Bong.
To be operational under the overarching umbrella of India-SouthKorea Defence Agreement, the MoU aimed at identifying futuristicdefence technology areas of mutual interest and pursuing Research andDevelopment works in both the countries.
Co-development and co-production of defence products with Indianindustry through DRDO by South Korean industry was part of theunderstanding.
"There will be joint Intellectual Property Rights on all theproducts developed through this mechanism. Some areas of immediateinterest were marine systems, electronics and intelligence systems andthese 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 ofmaintaining peace as well as ensuring safety and security of sea lanesof communication in the region.
He said regular exchanges towards ensuring maritime security wasimportant to both countries, especially in securing vital energysupplies that pass through the Indian Ocean.
"It is of particular importance for like-minded countries working inthe Gulf of Aden to coordinate efforts and also exchange information onthe 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, Antonysaid, "We live in a troubled neighbourhood. Some call it a fragileregion. We have to maintain balance and restraint even in the face ofgrave challenges to our security."
He said India's intention was to develop friendly and cooperativerelations with all our neighbours so that New Delhi can focus on itsmajor 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 assuch, looked at the emerging architecture in East Asia as "open andinclusive," he said that was why India welcomed the decision of ASEANForeign Ministers to move towards the inclusion of the United Statesand 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 theNational Cemetery in Seoul and laid a wreath there, apart frominspecting, amid light drizzle, a colourful inter-services guard ofhonour presented by the South Korean Armed Forces at the Ministry ofDefence headquarters.