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Expanding defense cooperation with the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam

ASEAN ministers hold a plenary session

Minister Lee Jong-sup introduces the Indo-Pacific Strategy

International support and cooperation to address North Korean provocations

Series of bilateral talks to share ideas for increased defense industry collaboration

Expanding defense cooperation with the Philippines

The 9th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) was held on 23 November 2022 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.


Under the theme "Solidarity for a Harmonized Security," Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup met with defense ministers from key Asia-Pacific countries to discuss ways to strengthen regional security and defense cooperation.


Minister Lee stressed defense cooperation with ASEAN during the conference, outlining Korea's “Indo-Pacific strategy” and “the action plan for ASEAN-ROK defense cooperation.” Furthermore, he stated that the ROK-US joint defense posture in response to nuclear and missile provocations from North Korea had been maintained, but that an audacious initiative had also been formulated to open the door for dialogue, and called on global support and collaboration.


Minister Lee had a series of bilateral talks with the defense ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam the day before the plenary session.


First, Minister Lee met with Philippine Defense Secretary Jose Faustino and proposed an extension of defense cooperation through the exchange of high-level officials, an expansion of joint exercise to strengthen interoperability, and defense industrial cooperation.


In response, Minister Faustino confirmed that national defense and defense industry cooperation have been ongoing since the two countries signed an MOU on defense cooperation in 2013, and that he anticipates continued cooperation with South Korea, particularly at a time when the government is seeking to transform its military in order to strengthen its defense capabilities.


Furthermore, Minister Faustino expressed concern about the recent security situation on the Korean Peninsula and criticized North Korea's missile launches. Minister Lee emphasized the importance of a unified response to North Korean provocations via solidarity and collaboration with ASEAN member nations.


Minister Lee praised the strong collaboration in various areas during a bilateral meeting with Indonesian Military Minister Prabowo Subianto, including anti-terrorism cooperation, participation in multilateral exercises led by Indonesia such as the KOMODO Exercise, and defense industry cooperation on the KF-21 next-generation fighter jet program, submarines, helicopters, and other projects. Minister Lee described these as "special strategic partnerships."


Minister Subianto agreed that strengthening cooperation between the two nations will help to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. He reaffirmed Indonesia's complete support for national defense as well as defense industry cooperation with the ROK, and demonstrated his country’s willingness to proceed smoothly with the next-generation fighter jet program.


The bilateral talks with Vietnamese Defense Minister Phan Văn Giang focused on strategies for enhancing bilateral defense exchanges and cooperation. Minister Phan emphasized the expansion of senior personnel exchanges, including the minister's visit to Vietnam, the activation of national defense cooperation taking into account the two countries' requirements and capabilities, cooperation on landmine removal, and the deepening of ASEAN-ROK national defense cooperation.


Minister Lee said that he would positively consider a visit to Vietnam next year and support the technology and equipment required to remove landmines in Vietnam while also reinvigorating the ongoing deputy-level dialogue on defense strategy.


Furthermore, Minister Lee requested the other ministers' cooperation in Seoul's efforts to host the 2030 Busan World Expo, and the ministers agreed to forward the requests to the relevant ministries in their respective nations.

By Hyun-woo, Seo <>

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