Vilna'i reaches deal with South Korea on home front cooperation
Both countries to work together in case of natural disasters.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Israel and South Korea will increase their level of cooperation in management of natural disasters and home front defense, under an agreement reached between Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i and his South Korean counterparts during talks in Seoul this week.
Vilna'i flew to Seoul on Monday with Ze'ev Zuk-Ram, head of the National Emergency Administration (NEA) and his military secretary, Lt.-Col. Uri Cohen, for talks with a number of officials to look for ways to increase cooperation between Israel and South Korea in home front defense.
The NEA was established after the Second Lebanon War in 2006 to coordinate between the IDF Home Front Command, municipalities, regional councils, government ministries and various rescue services in the event of a major natural disaster or missile attack.
Vilna'i met Monday with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan as well as with officials involved in civil defense in South Korea. News of the trip was initially banned for publication by the Defense Ministry due to security concerns.
"Israel and South Korea have a lot in common since they are both countries which are surrounded by enemies," Vilnai said, following the meeting.
Vilna'i invited Myung-hwan to send a defense delegation to Israel in May to oversee the next nationwide home front exercise.
In June, the IDF held its largest civil-defense exercise since the Second Lebanon War called Turning Point 3, which lasted five days and whose highlight was the sounding of air-raid sirens nationwide. Citizens were asked to enter nearby bomb shelters and protective rooms.
Defense cooperation between Israel and South Korea has picked up in recent years as the missile threat posed to the countries by Iran and North Korea increases.
In 2007, Elbit Systems' Skylark II unmanned aerial vehicle beat out a number of companies from around the world to be chosen by the South Korean military as its new drone to be used in tactical operations and border patrols.
In May, the Korea Times reported that Seoul had decided to purchase the Israel Aerospace Industries Super Green Pine radar, used with the Arrow missile defense system.
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