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Australia signs $1 bln defense deal with South Korea: PM

Dutton noted that the contract was struck with the aim of protecting Australian interests and safety "in a rapidly changing global environment."

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Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have signed a $1 billion defense deal, dubbed as the Hanwha Howitzer contract, to build an armoured vehicle centre for excellence in Geelong, a port city in the country’s South.

“[South Korea and Australia] are also important security partners, as we have just witnessed with the Hanwha Howitzer contract, a billion dollar armoured vehicle centre for excellence to be located in the Geelong region,” Morrison said on Monday during a press conference in Canberra.

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The Hanwha Howitzer contract was signed during Moon’s four-day visit to Australia and will see South Korean defense manufacturer Hanwha supply the Australian army with weapons, vehicles and radars.

According to Defense Minister Peter Dutton, the contract covers 30 Self-Propelled Howitzers, 15 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles and weapon locating radars.

Morrison called this deal, which is one of the biggest between Australia and an Asian nation and as important commitment.

“It’s an important further chapter in the Defence Industry story for Australia as we continue to build our sovereign capability. And Korea is an important partner in that journey, both in our security arrangements but also in the building of our sovereign capability in defence manufacturing,” Morrison added.

Dutton noted that the contract was struck with the aim of protecting Australian interests and safety “in a rapidly changing global environment.”

The deal comes at a time when relations between Australia and China are tense after Australia has announced last week a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

In mid-September, Australia had also announced a trilateral security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom, dubbed AUKUS, under which the nation will obtain the technology for developing its own nuclear-powered submarines.

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