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(LEAD) British aircraft carrier to visit S. Korea this year

11:12 April 27, 2021

(ATTN: UPGRADES attribution in 3rd para; ADDS defense ministry spokesman's remark in 6th para)

SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- A British aircraft carrier strike group will make a port call at the southeastern city of Busan later this year, Seoul's defense ministry said Tuesday, as the European country seeks to expand its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

South Korea has accepted Britain's request for its HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to make a port call at Busan in the second half to boost "bilateral defense cooperation and friendly exchanges," the ministry said.

Accompanied by multiple warships and military jets, the aircraft carrier will set sail next month with plans to visit South Korea, India, Japan and Singapore, according to the British defense ministry.

The upcoming visit comes as South Korea pushes to secure a 30,000-ton-class light aircraft carrier with its own technologies by 2033.

British media earlier said the South Korean and British governments began informal talks on technology cooperation for the project, though Seoul has denied the report.

"There is a possibility of cooperation, including exchanging knowledge, such as Britain's experience of operating aircraft carriers, on the occasion of its visit," Seoul's defense ministry spokesman Boo Seung-chan said during a regular press briefing.

This year's port call will mark the third South Korea visit by British aircraft carriers. Britain previously sent light aircraft carriers to Busan in 1992 and 1997.

"The two countries will discuss detailed activity plans for exchange and cooperation with strict antivirus guidelines in place," the ministry said in a release.

(LEAD) British aircraft carrier to visit S. Korea this year - 1

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