Defense minister heads to India to improve ties

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Defense minister heads to India to improve ties

Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo departed for India on Monday to hold talks with his Indian counterpart to explore ways to further bilateral ties, his office said Monday.

During the four-day official visit at the invitation of Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Jeong will also attend Defexpo 2020, one of Asia’s largest defense expos, set for Feb. 5-9 in the Indian city of Lucknow, according to his ministry.

“During the visit, the two ministers will hold talks to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in their defense and arms industry fields,” the ministry said in a release.

The defense expo is expected to bring together some 700 companies from around 30 countries across the world, including 12 Korean firms, according to the ministry.

Jeong’s visit comes as India is expected to make a final decision on whether to buy Korea’s K-30 antiaircraft defense system, named Biho.

Last year, the Indian army selected the Biho system, developed by Korea’s Hanwha Defense Systems, in cooperation with LIG Nex1, as the sole candidate for acquisition. But the project has been delayed after Russia, another bidder for the project, has raised questions over the bidding process, according to arms procurement agency officials.

Also drawing attention is India’s project to build six submarines worth more than $7 billion. Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering is one of the five foreign shipbuilders that made a bid for the mega-project, with the final selection expected in mid-2022, they added.

The minister will also visit an Indian hospital and hold events for Indian veterans who took part in the 1950-53 Korean War to express gratitude for their role.

On the outbreak of the war, India sent its 60th Parachute Field Ambulance Platoon of 627 medics, who took care of 220,000 soldiers and civilians, according to government data.

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