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S. Korea eyes military cooperation with African countries

South Korea plans to seek ways to increase military cooperation with Africa as President Park Geun-hye embarks on her trip to three African countries including Uganda this week, a government official said Tuesday.

Seoul’s move will help weaken North Korea’s military network with Africa and make it possible to strengthen cooperation over the international sanctions regime imposed on the communist country, according to the official.

The chief executive will embark on her African tour and trip to France on Wednesday and return home on June 5.

Vice Defense Minister Hwang In-moo plans to accompany Park on her upcoming state visits to three African countries Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya Seoul’s defense ministry said.

Hwang plans to discuss ways to increase cooperation in the military and defense sectors with his counterparts in the African countries, the ministry said.

"There has been little military cooperation between South Korea and Africa," a ministry official said, asking not to be named. "We cannot reveal details, but we plan to gradually expand such cooperation including the operation of an exchange program of personnel."

Ethiopia, the first country on Park’s itinerary, is one of the countries that fought under the U.N. banner in support of South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. Uganda, on the other hand, has long maintained close ties with North Korea since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1963.

Hwang is expected to meet with Uganda’s defense chief and other military officials to discuss ways to cooperate in the military sector, it added.

"If South Korea and African countries strengthen military cooperation, it would help cut off North Korea’s exports of arms to Africa," said a South Korean military official. "The so-called military diplomacy will also beef up international coordination in putting pressure on North Korea."


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