South Korea, Qatar defence ministers agree to boost military ties

The defence ministers of South Korea and Qatar have agreed to expand joint military training and strengthen bilateral cooperation, Seoul’s defence ministry said on Wednesday, amid a push by Seoul to boost global arms sales.

Seoul’s defence minister Shin Won-sik met his counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah in Qatar, where they also signed an agreement to hold regular ministerial-level talks and establish a foundation for bilateral defence cooperation.

Shin embarked on a seven-day trip to the Middle East last week, during which he also travelled to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where he attended the World Defense Show.

Shin’s trip comes as South Korea seeks to become one of the world’s largest arms suppliers.

Its arms sales jumped to $17 billion in 2022 from $7.25 billion the year before, data from the defence ministry showed.

The country’s weapons exports to the Middle East grew nearly tenfold between 2013 and 2022, according to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Shin also met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani following President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to the country in November, the ministry said.