Korea and Australia hold ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue

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Korea and Australia hold ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue


From left, Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith, Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin shake hands before meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul yesterday. [AP/NEWSIS]

Foreign and defense ministers of Australia and Korea held their first joint security dialogue in Seoul yesterday, condemning North Korea’s recent provocative actions and urging Pyongyang to denuclearize in a joint press statement.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Defense Minister Stephen Smith met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se and Minister for National Defense Kim Kwan-jin at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Seoul, for the inaugural Australia-Korea “two-plus-two” dialogue to discuss peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, cooperation between troops and other bilateral issues.

The ministers called the meeting “historic,” as Australia is the first country Korea has held this sort of dialogue with other than the United States.

“Australia expressed full support for trust-building on the Korean Peninsula and for the Northeast Asia Initiative,” said Yun in a joint press conference with the three other ministers.

Australia also raised concern about the grave human rights situations in North Korea, he said.

In a joint press statement, the ministers called on Pyongyang “to take concrete steps to uphold the human rights of nine young people who were forcefully repatriated recently to North Korea.”

On May 10, nine North Korean defectors aged 15 to 23 were apprehended in Laos en route to South Korea and were repatriated via China.

The ministers also agreed to increase defense cooperation in areas including maritime security, bilateral maritime exercises, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Later yesterday, the Australian ministers met with President Park Geun-hye, who shared her vision of trust-building on the Korean Peninsula and building cooperation and peace in Northeast Asia.

The Australian ministers earlier visited the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan District, central Seoul, and laid a wreath for Australian soldiers who died during the Korean War (1950-53).

During the Korean War, Australia sent more than 17,164 troops to the Korean Peninsula, of which 339 were killed and 1,216 injured.

“In 1950, following North Korea’s attack on the South, Australia was second only to the U.S. in committing forces to the defense of the Republic of Korea,” said Carr. “Our countries share strong ties as a result.”

BY SARAH KIM [[sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]]
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