By Alex Jensen
SEOUL (AA) – South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo has requested Turkey's help in resolving a decades-long standoff with North Korea, his ministry said Tuesday.
A day earlier in Ankara, Song was welcomed by his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar for talks on the Korean Peninsula and wider cooperation.
"During the talks, Minister Song explained the outcomes of the recent inter-Korean summit and the North Korea-U.S. summit and called for Turkey's active support and cooperation in the efforts for the complete denuclearization of the peninsula and for the establishment of a lasting peace," the ministry said in a statement carried by local news agency Yonhap.
Akar reportedly responded by vowing to join South Korea in striving for peace.
They also decided to take steps to bolster defense ties, having already "very closely cooperated in the arms industry".
For example, Turkey has in the past purchased K-9 artillery weapons from South Korea along with KT-1 trainer jets — the South's first entirely indigenous aircraft.
The two countries have made rapid progress in various areas since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited South Korea in May.
Seoul and Ankara upgraded their bilateral free trade agreement as of this month after they earlier agreed to include the services and investment sectors.
Their relationship has been strengthened further by the legacy of the Korean War, which ended only in an armistice in 1953.
Turkey was the first country after the U.S. to answer the United Nations' call for military aid to South Korea after the North attacked in 1950.
Pyongyang has in recent months promised to denuclearize and seek a peace treaty, but agreements with Seoul and Washington have been criticized for lacking a specific plan.