Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane held extensive talks with his South Korean counterpart Gen Nam Yeong Shin on ways to boost bilateral military ties, and visited several key installations, including the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), during his tour of the East Asian nation, officials said on Thursday. The Chief of Army Staff also visited the headquarters of the South Korean Army at Gyeryong city where he was given a guard of honour, they said.
Gen Naravane arrived in Seoul on Monday and held separate talks with Minister of National Defence Suh Wook, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Won In Choul and Minister of Defence Acquisition Planning Administration Gang Eun Ho. He visited the South Korean Army headquarters on Tuesday and the DMZ on Wednesday.
The DMZ is a buffer zone that separates North and South Korea since the Korean war in the 1950s. "General MM Naravane #COAS received a Guard of Honour at ROK Army Headquarters #Gyeryong #RepublicofKorea. #COAS also called on General Nam Yeong shin, Chief of Staff of the Republic of Korea Army and discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation," the Army tweeted.
It said the Chief of Army Staff also visited the 30th Armoured Brigade of the South Korean armed forces as well as the DMZ. Officials said the focus of Gen Naravane's talks with the South Korean military brass was to further strengthen strategic and defence cooperation between the two countries. It is the first-ever visit by a head of the Indian Army to South Korea.
The defence and security ties between India and South Korea have been on an upswing in the last one decade as there have been a growing convergence of interests between the two sides in an array of areas including in the maritime domain. The East Asian country has been a major supplier of military platforms and weapons to India. Indian policy-makers think there is a huge opportunity to expand cooperation in manufacturing equipment relating to aeronautics, ship-building, electronics and missile technologies.
Ties between the two countries were raised to the level of 'strategic partnership' during a visit to India by then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in 2010. The relationship was further elevated to the level of 'special strategic partnership' during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Seoul in 2015.
Both sides are signatories to a mutual logistics support agreement for naval cooperation. The pact facilitates the two navies to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.