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Thursday, January 15, 2009      

Iraqi defense minister sees South Korea as
'a model to follow'

BAGHDAD — Iraq and South Korea are exploring defense cooperation, including joint production.   

Officials said an Iraqi Defense Ministry delegation is considering prospects for military procurement as well as joint defense projects with South Korea, Middle East Newsline reported. The delegation, led by Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Al Obeidi, has been briefed on South Korea's defense technology and toured weapons facilities.

"The South Korean military is a model to follow because it has achieved modernization from a zero point," Al Obeidi said.

In mid-January, Al Obeidi visited Seoul and held talks with his South Korean counterpart, See Sang-hee. South Korea was a participant in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and withdrew its 3,600 troops in December 2008.

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"I know very well that South Korea possesses leading technology in the defense area," Al Obeidi said.

Officials said South Korea has briefed Iraq on Seoul's joint defense projects in Turkey. South Korean companies have been working with Ankara to develop a main battle tank, air trainer and other military platforms.

Al Obeidi, who toured an automobile plant in South Korea on Jan. 15, has expressed interest in similar projects. Officials said one project was for the assembly of armored vehicles in Iraq.

"One of the reasons I came to South Korea was to inspect an automobile plant," Al Obeidi said.

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