WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon has informed Congress it intends to sell South Korea $624 million in weapons, including the first-ever sale of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to the Asian nation.

MLRS are surface-to-surface missile systems intended to counter North Korean artillery.

``This sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country,'' the Pentagon said in a statement.

``This is the first sale of these surface-to-surface missile systems to Korea, and it will enable the Korean Army to ... counter hostile long-range artillery and rocket systems'' and enhance the Korean military's ability to cooperate with U.S. forces stationed in South Korea, the statement said.

The sale includes 29 MLRS launchers, 271 rocket pods, 168 reduced range practice rocket pods, 29 vehicles to carry the launchers, 11 Army tactical missiles and launch assemblies.

The package also includes 200 radios, 300 night-vision goggles and recovery and transport vehicles.

The primary contractor is Lockheed Martin Vought Systems of Dallas, the Pentagon said.