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U.S. ‘disappointed’ at end of Japan-S. Korea intel pact

Aug 24. 2019
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By The Yomiuri Shimbun

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday expressed disappointment over South Korea’s decision to terminate an agreement to share military intelligence with Japan.

“We’re disappointed to see the decision that the South Koreans made” about the information-sharing pact with Japan, Pompeo told a press conference during his trip to Ottawa, Canada. “We hope each of those two countries can begin to put that relationship back in exactly the right place.”

Seoul’s decision Thursday to scrap the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, with Japan came at a time when ties between the two countries have been strained over history and trade issues.

Pompeo also revealed that he talked with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha over the phone the same day. In addition to receiving explanations on the decision from Kang, the secretary is believed to have discussed with her steps to be taken over the matter.

According to a South Korean defense ministry official, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo also held phone talks. While Esper expressed concern about Seoul’s decision and stressed the need to work closely together to maintain Washington-Tokyo-Seoul security cooperation, Jeong explained that an insincere move by Japan made the pact’s scrapping unavoidable.

The United States had been calling on South Korea to maintain the intelligence pact with Japan, as it considers the three-way cooperation as essential for seeking North Korea’s denuclearization. Washington is apparently concerned that the recent fraying of ties between the East Asian neighbors may negatively affect the stalled U.S.-North Korea talks.

A U.S. State Department official said Washington has repeatedly told the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in that terminating the bilateral pact with Japan would hurt the United States’ security interests.

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