(ATTN: UPDATES with Moon's meeting with Australian governor-general, other events in last 4 paras; ADDS photos)
By Lee Haye-ah
CANBERRA/SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed Monday to continue to work together to secure a stable supply chain of critical minerals as they met in Canberra for a summit.
Australia is rich in resources and energy, including iron ore, coal and liquefied natural gas, and the leaders' agreement is expected to boost South Korea's competitiveness in the electric vehicle and secondary battery industries, which are crucial in the carbon-neutral era, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
"This is an area where Australia and Korea are already working very closely together to build those reliable, trusted supply chains in these critical minerals and rare earths that we know will power the new energy economy and the global economy into the future," Morrison said at a joint press conference with Moon following the talks, which came as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to global supply chains.
The leaders also agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of formal diplomatic ties this year.
Moon arrived in Canberra on Sunday, becoming the first South Korean president to pay a state visit to Australia in 12 years. He is also the first foreign leader that the country has invited since the start of the pandemic, officials said.
During their talks, Moon and Morrison agreed to partner in future industry areas related to carbon neutral technology and the hydrogen economy.
They also agreed to expand their countries' cooperation in defense, defense materiel, digital transformation and their response to the pandemic to contribute to regional stability, peace and prosperity.
Moon explained the South Korean government's efforts to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, including through a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, and Morrison expressed his support for the initiatives.
"I thank (Prime Minister Morrison) for consistently supporting South Korea's efforts to bring denuclearization and lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula, and hope we will together lead the international community to overcome common challenges facing humanity," Moon said at the press conference.
The leaders agreed on the importance of dialogue and diplomacy for complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula.
They also noted Australia's decision to allow visits by fully vaccinated South Koreans starting this Wednesday and expressed hope the move will lead to increased exchanges and business between the two countries.
On the summit's sidelines, the two sides signed a contract under which the Australian Army will buy 30 units of the K-9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer and 15 units of the K-10 armored ammunition resupply vehicles from South Korea's Hanwha Defense.
The sides also signed memoranda of understanding on cooperation in carbon neutral technology and the hydrogen economy, as well as in research and personnel exchanges in the critical minerals sector.
After the summit, Moon attended a state luncheon hosted by Australian Governor-General David Hurley.
Moon called Australia a "true friend" that helped South Korea in its time of need, including through its deployment of 17,000 troops to help defend the South from a North Korean invasion during the Korean War.
Hurley lauded South Korea's emergence as a cultural powerhouse, saying Australians have been part of the global fandom behind Oscar-winning hit film "Parasite" and Netflix series "Squid Game."
Moon later paid his respects at the Australian National Korean War Memorial and is scheduled to have dinner with Australian veterans of the war.
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