FM sees point in claims GSOMIA termination could benefit N.K., China

SEOUL-- Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Friday she sees a point in claims that the possible termination of a military intelligence-sharing pact between South Korea and Japan could benefit North Korea and China.

Kang made the remarks as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is set to expire on Nov. 23 unless Seoul retracts its decision to end the agreement seen as a symbolic framework to foster the U.S.' trilateral security cooperation with its two Asian allies.

"I think we can make an assessment like that," Kang told a parliamentary session in response to a lawmaker's request to comment on the argument that Beijing and Pyongyang would benefit from the expiration of the GSOMIA.

In August, Seoul announced its decision on GSOMIA following Tokyo's export curbs seen as political retaliation for last year's Korean Supreme Court rulings against Japanese firms over wartime forced labor.

Washington has opposed that decision, heaping pressure on Seoul to rethink it while stressing the importance of trilateral security cooperation efforts in the face of North Korean military threats and China's increasing assertiveness.

Kang defended Seoul's decision as an inevitable one at a time of a dispute over trade and history.

"We have sufficiently taken into consideration the possibility that the ramifications of the decision could impose a burden on the handling of other diplomatic relations," Kang said.

The minister also stressed that Seoul remains committed to close communication and cooperation with Washington in handling the GSOMIA issue.

"It is true that there has been disappointment in the U.S.," she said.

"I can't say that there is no problem at all in the South Korea-U.S. relations, but our resolve remains firmer to further enhance the alliance through maximum cooperation regarding the ramifications about GSOMIA," she added.

Kang also reiterated that Seoul can reconsider its decision on the military pact should Tokyo roll back its export restrictions against South Korea.

"It was a decision that we cannot help but make due to a change in the security environment, which was caused by Japan's export restrictions," she said. "As there is no cancellation of the export curbs yet, we are sticking to our position."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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