(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead with departure; ADDS more info in paras 2, 6)
By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Defense Minister Suh Wook has embarked on a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India to meet with senior officials there to discuss ways to boost defense and arms industry ties, his office said Monday.
Suh left for the UAE on Sunday for a four-day visit at the invitation of Mohammad Ahmed Al Bowardi, the country's Minister of State for Defense, and hold their annual security talks, according to the ministry.
He also plans to meet major military figures in the country "to have in-depth discussions on ways to enhance their defense sector and the related industries," it added.
Suh also plans to visit South Korea's Akh Unit dispatched to the Middle Eastern country, as the unit celebrates the 10th anniversary of its service there.
The Akh Unit has carried out missions to train UAE troops and protect Korean nationals there in emergencies since 2011.
Suh will fly to India for a three-day visit on Thursday at the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, for a ministerial meeting.
During the visit, he plans to attend a ceremony to mark the official opening of the "Indo-Korean Friendship Park" in New Delhi, which was established upon the agreement of their leaders in 2019.
A monument set up at the park to mark the sacrifice and commitment of Indian troops during the 1950-53 Korean War will also be unveiled, according to the ministry.
During the war, India sent its 60th Parachute Field Ambulance Platoon of 627 medics, who took care of 220,000 soldiers and civilians, according to Seoul government data.
"This visit is to resume our defense diplomacy activities which have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic since last year in order to invigorate defense exchanges and cooperation with the nations," the ministry said.
He is to return home on Sunday.
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