Sydney, Australia, Dec 13 (EFE).- Australia and South Korea signed a defense contract valued at AU$1 billion ($717 million) in Canberra on Monday, during the first state visit of Prime Minister Moon Jae-in.
Under the agreement, the signing of which was witnessed by Moon and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the South Korean defense company Hanwha will provide Canberra with 30 self-propelled howitzers, 15 armored ammunition resupply vehicles, and weapon locating radars.
“We are partnering with Hanwha to create an Armored Vehicle Center of Excellence in the Geelong region, which will establish a further strategic defense industry hub and future export opportunities for Australian businesses,” Morrison said in a statement.
“This contract will create a minimum of 300 jobs spread across facility construction, acquisition and maintenance, as well as generating ongoing support opportunities for Australian industry until the late 2040s.”
The agreement, the largest in defense matters signed between the two countries, according to local media, coincides with an increase in tensions between Canberra and Beijing.
In September, Australia sealed an ambitious defense pact with the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) with an eye on countering China in the Indo-Pacific region, and which will provide it with nuclear-powered submarines. The move was condemned by Beijing.
Moon said Monday during a subsequent press conference that his visit “has nothing to do with our position over China,” although he remarked that both Seoul and Canberra “uphold the same values and our position in terms of the geopolitical situation.”
“Australia is making efforts for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.
Moon, who is on a four-day visit to Australia, and Morrison also witnessed the signing of agreements on technology and renewable energy development, among others. EFE