Bolton calls for close consultations over further potential KADIZ breaches

SEOUL, -- The United States on Wednesday called for close cooperation with South Korea over future incidents like a recent flight by Chinese and Russian warplanes into the South's air defense identification zone (KADIZ), Cheong Wa Dae said.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton made the remark during talks with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul earlier in the day, according to Ko Min-jung, presidential spokesperson.

Chung explained Korea's stern response to an entrance by two Chinese and two Russian aircraft into the KADIZ on Tuesday without prior notice.

Shortly afterward, a Russian warplane intruded into South Korea's airspace twice over the East Sea, prompting South Korea's Air Force to fire warning shots.

"(Bolton) called for the two nations to closely consult in response to similar situations in the future," Ko said.

Bolton arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a two-day trip after visiting Japan earlier this week. He met with South Korea's foreign and defense ministers.

Earlier, Cheong Wa Dae said "pending major issues" will be discussed, including ways to establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula and strengthen the Seoul-Washington alliance.

Ko said Chung and Bolton also agreed to continue discussions over how to cooperate on U.S.-led efforts to ensure free navigation through waters off Iran.

The U.S. reportedly hopes that South Korea and other nations will dispatch troops and naval vessels or contribute funds for patrols in the Strait of Hormuz, via which a fifth of the world's oil passes.

Bolton reportedly did not bring up the issue of the dispatch of Korean troops when he met with Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo.

As for the matter of defense cost sharing, the allies decided to seek consultations, based on the spirit of the Seoul-Washington alliance in the most "reasonable and fair" way, according to Ko.

Under the one-year contract signed in March, Seoul will pay 1.04 trillion won (US$883 million) in 2019 for the operation of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), up from 960 billion won the previous year.

The allies need to start negotiations in coming months on sharing USFK costs after the end of this year.

Cheong Wa Dae said they also discussed frayed relations between South Korea and Japan but did not provide details.

Bolton's trip came as two major allies of Washington -- Seoul and Tokyo -- are locked in a row over Japan's export curbs on high-tech materials in apparent retaliation against court rulings in South Korea over Japan's wartime forced labor.

South Korea wants the U.S. to play a mediation role in resolving the trade spat diplomatically.

A potentially drawn-out confrontation between Washington's two allies could hamper trilateral security cooperation involving the U.S., a key to countering North Korea's threats and keeping China's growing military clout in check.

Seoul's review of a military information sharing accord with Japan came under highlight as a key agenda item.

The South's government said it will "objectively" review both the quality and quantity of the military information it has exchanged with Japan to decide the fate of the accord.

If Seoul discards the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), signed in 2016, it could be a blow to Washington's pursuit of stronger trilateral security cooperation involving the two allies.

The allies' security advisers also reaffirmed close coordination to deal with North Korea's denuclearization issue.

The leaders of the U.S. and North Korea agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks during their surprise meeting at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the end of June, but no schedule for a resumption has yet been set.

Chung and Bolton shared the understanding that working-level negotiations should be immediately resumed, and there should be practical progress for denuclearization talks.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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