The South Korean government has secured a bilateral defense deal with Australia, bolstering the two nations’ arms industry and other security affairs.

Korean defense minister Lee Jong-sup and Australian defense chief Richard Marles have agreed to enhance interoperability between their militaries through expanded arms cooperation and strengthened bilateral and multilateral military exercises.

The two defense chiefs are also eyeing the institutional foundations of their combined military drills and cooperation in the defense science and technology sector.

The agreement was reached on the sidelines of the three-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus in Cambodia.

The ministers adopted a joint declaration for their continued support in promoting sustainable peace and security in Southeast Asia.

‘Future-Oriented Cooperation’

South Korea and Australia have shared their commitment to “future-oriented cooperation” through their defense enhancement plans.

Lee earlier held a meeting with top Korean defense officials pushing for its military modernization plan, Defense Innovation 4.0.

The initiative seeks to harness cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, for various military operations to bolster defense capabilities and address potential troop shortages, as South Korea has recorded the lowest birth rate in the world for two years in a row.

Canberra’s Defense Strategic Review seeks to identify priority investments for the Australian Defence Force amid the shifting regional security landscape.

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The independently-led review will receive submissions by the end of November.