Seoul seeks closer defence ties with India

Wants support for WTO DG position, bats for two-plus-two talks

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13

South Korea has suggested the revival of in-person diplomacy, including two-plus-two talks with India, during a meeting of its first Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun with Indian ambassador in Seoul Sripriya Ranganathan.

Seoul’s proposal for a two plus two with India or a simultaneous meeting of foreign and defence ministers from both countries has been aired at a time when the US is keen on an informal expansion of Quad. The countries that could be a part of an extended Quad include South Korea.

During the talks, South Korea also sought Indian support for its Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee candidature for the WTO DG’s post. Yoo has entered the final round of the selection process and is competing with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria. The WTO is expected to announce the decision on the new leader around early November.

Ranganathan and Choi also agreed to continue efforts to deepen bilateral cooperation, especially in defence and people-to-people exchanges, according to a South Korean Foreign Ministry statement. “Delighted to call on the first Vice Foreign Minister and hear firsthand his thoughts on how best to strengthen the already robust India-ROK relationship even more,” said Ranganathan in a social media post.

Choi concurred with the Indian envoy on the need to continue close communication via virtual meetings between the two governments and agreed to seek ways to resume high-level talks.

Separately, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in a special missive, said, “India means a lot to us, given the fact that it is the world’s second most populous nation and a key partner for my administration’s New Southern Policy.”

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