South Korea confirms talks on AUKUS pact with US, UK and Australia

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 10:23 PM

By Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) -South Korea has held talks on joining a part of the AUKUS defence deal between the U.S., Britain and Australia, Defence Minister Shin Won-sik said on Wednesday, only weeks after the pact said it would hold formal talks on Japan’s entry.

AUKUS, formed by the three countries in 2021, is part of efforts to push back against China’s growing power in the Asia Pacific region.

“During today’s meeting we also discussed the possibility of partnering with AUKUS Pillar Two,” Shin said at a news conference following a meeting between Australia and South Korea’s foreign and defence ministers.

“We support AUKUS Pillar Two activities and we do welcome that members are considering Korea as an AUKUS Pillar Two partner.”

The first stage, or “pillar”, of AUKUS is designed to deliver nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia and is not open to new members.

However, the original three members have long said more countries would be invited to join the second pillar, which is focused on sharing military technology across a range of areas including quantum computing and hypersonic missiles.

Talks about potential joint projects with Japan are set to begin this year.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Sonali Paul)