U.S. pressured both Seoul, Tokyo to renew GSOMIA: S. Korea's Defense Minister
Updated: 2019-11-18 16:28:08 KST
The U.S. has been pressuring both South Korea and Japan to narrow their differences to renew their bilateral military intel-sharing pact, or the General Security of Military Information Agreement, commonly referred to as GSOMIA.
This is according to South Korea's defense minister Jeong Kyeong-doo during a briefing held in Bangkok on Sunday when asked about Washington's response to rising speculations about the impact on the South Korea-U.S. alliance if GSOMIA expires midnight November 23, Korea time.
Jeong said the U.S. agrees that GSOMIA holds great symbolic and strategic value for the South Korea-U.S. alliance and that's why Washington has been strongly urging both Seoul and Tokyo to renew the pact dismissing speculations Washington is siding with Tokyo while appeasing Seoul on the matter.
He reiterated that South Korea has been demanding Japan to retract its export curbs in exchange for a possible reconsideration of its decision to terminate GSOMIA.
Meanwhile, Japan downplayed GSOMIA's significance saying it's a complimentary agreement for its intel-sharing with the U.S.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a briefing held Monday that related intel regarding ballistic missiles flying towards the country is being sufficiently obtained unilaterally and in coordination with the U.S.
The soured relations between Seoul and Tokyo have raised concerns for Washington that the ongoing row may weaken their trilateral security alliance, considered crucial in countering threats from North Korea and the build-up in Chinese military.
In light of diplomatic pressure to patch up relations, the South Korean military may have refrained from responding harshly to an incident involving Japan although defense talks held in the Thai capital on Sunday ended without an agreement.
A South Korean military source confirmed it didn't respond when a Japanese patrol plane had flown dangerously low, close to a South Korean destroyer earlier this month.
The incident could have been reminiscent of the two countries' military relations that turned sour after Tokyo accused Seoul that its destroyer had locked radar onto a Japanese patrol plane that flew in the East Sea last December.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.