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Seoul Remains Adamant against Renewing GSOMIA with Tokyo

Written: 2019-11-22 11:46:39Updated: 2019-11-22 14:24:14

Seoul Remains Adamant against Renewing GSOMIA with Tokyo

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: Following the imposition of retaliatory Japanese trade restrictions on South Korea, Seoul announced in August that it would pull out of the General Security of Military Information Agreement, a bilateral intel-sharing pact, it has shared with Japan for three years. Ahead of the expiration of the pact Friday at midnight, key lawmakers and diplomats from Seoul and Washington were busy having last-minute discussions on the matter. There are no signs, however, that Seoul will change its mind.
Kim Bum-soo has more. 

Report: Washington is making last-ditch efforts to persuade Seoul not to let its bilateral military intelligence sharing pact with Japan expire on Friday. 

The chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday sat down with ruling and opposition floor leaders from Seoul.

[Sound bite: Rep. Eliot Engel - U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair] 
"I don't think we have a choice. There are adversaries that we have for both countries: Beijing, Pyongyang."

Speaking to South Korean reporters before the meeting, Rep. Eliot Engel reiterated Washington's position on the General Security of Military Information Agreement, commonly referred to as GSOMIA, which has served as a key platform for U.S.-led trilateral security cooperation with South Korea and Japan. 

[Sound bite: Rep. Eliot Engel - U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair] 
"We can't afford to be fighting amongst ourselves. There are warm feelings that the United States appreciates the friendship with people from [the] Republic of Korea, and also from people in Japan."

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also cited mutual security concerns facing South Korean and Japanese leaders, calling on them to resolve their differences. 

Shortly before leaving Vietnam Thursday, Esper was cited by the Pentagon as saying that despite the historical roots of friction between Seoul and Tokyo dating back decades, there are greater concerns that involve North Korea and China.

But Seoul is not budging. During a nationally-televised town hall meeting on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in made it clear that the GSOMIA matter is not negotiable unless Japan first softens its stance. 

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean/Nov. 19)]
"However, while tightening its export control measures, Japan said South Korea cannot be trusted for security reasons. [Japan says] it cannot trust South Korea because hydrogen fluoride and other semiconductor materials [it sells to our corporations] can be shipped to North Korea or to a third country and then used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons. Isn't it contradictory to seek military intelligence sharing while saying that [South Korea] cannot be trusted in terms of security?" 

After the South Korean Supreme Court last year ruled that Japanese companies must compensate the victims of their colonial-era forced labor, the Shinzo Abe government toughened trade control measures on key high-tech materials South Korea imports to produce semiconductors and displays. Tokyo also dropped South Korea from a “whitelist” of reliable trade partners. 

The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States discussed the matter in a telephone call Thursday night. Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee that Seoul will not reconsider its decision to terminate GSOMIA unless Tokyo first scraps its trade retaliation. 
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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