Defense minister, U.S. naval chief discuss N. Korea, defense industry cooperation

Defense Minister Shin Won-sik held talks with the visiting U.S. secretary of the Navy in Seoul on Monday to discuss ways to boost cooperation in regional security and the defense industry, the ministry said. Shin met with Secretary Carlos Del Toro to exchange views on the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, bilateral coordination on North Korea and defense industry cooperation, his office said. Del Toro was in Seoul as part of his travel to the Indo-Pacific, which also includes stops in Japan and Palau, according to his office. It marks his second visit to South Korea since the first in October 2021. During the talks, Shin emphasized the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense posture with the United States to deter North Korean provocations and thanked the U.S. for the deployment of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarine for the first time since 1981 last year to demonstrate its security commitment to South Korea. Del Toro said the bilateral alliance is the "linchpin" of regio nal security and highlighted South Korea's importance in the global supply chain, expressing expectations for expanding cooperation in science and technology. Later in the day, Del Toro will visit Korean shipyards to observe their military and commercial shipbuilding capabilities and explore their potential for future cooperation in the maritime sector, the ministry said. He is scheduled to visit Hanwha Ocean and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, the nation's two largest shipbuilders, to discuss cooperation in naval vessel maintenance, repair and overhaul, according to sources familiar with issue. During his stay, the U.S. official will also meet with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Kim Myung-soo and the chiefs of the Navy and Marine Corps to discuss ways to bolster security ties, it noted. Source: Yonhap News Agency