South Korean leader calls for more arms exports, enhanced defence capabilities

South Korean President Moon Jae In speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2017 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, on Oct 17, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL - South Korean President Moon Jae In on Tuesday (Oct 17) called for a transformation of the defence industry to boost its exports and to develop advanced systems to enhance defence capabilities.

"We must widen our view to the world and form joint communities for defence cooperation with friendly nations," Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying at the opening of the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (Adex).

"We must break away from the current weapons development system, which targets the South Korean military as the only buyer, to build a system where we will jointly plan, develop and operate advanced weapons systems with friendly nations," he was quoted as saying.

Moon noted that the country has exported over US$2.3 billion (S$3.1 billion) worth of indigenously developed T-50 supersonic trainer jets over the past decade, according to the Kyodo report.

"The government will further strengthen its diplomatic efforts to help boost exports by the defence industry. I believe our government's efforts will contribute to global peace while also strengthening the defence capabilities of friendly nations," he said at the opening ceremony, which was attended by a number of top foreign defence officials.

Moon also reiterated the need to further develop South Korea's defence systems amid North Korea's nuclear threats.

"We urgently need to secure enhanced capabilities for our own aerospace and defence industries," he said. "We must deploy advanced weapons systems with superior capabilities that can protect the people from North Korean security threats."

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in recent weeks following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept 3 and two missile launches over Japan.

"Strengthening the competitiveness of the defence industry will lead to more jobs, and it will be the start of the defence industry becoming a new growth engine," Moon added.

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