Moon, Pentagon chief discuss trilateral security cooperation with Japan: official
SEOUL, President Moon Jaein and the visiting U.S. defense secretary talked about the significance of trilateral security cooperation involving Japan during their meeting here Friday, Moon's office said.
Mark Esper was on his maiden visit to Seoul as the Pentagon chief. It came at a very sensitive time for threeway security partnerships among the regional powers.
Locked in a trade fight with Japan, South Korea is reviewing whether it's worthwhile to keep a bilateral accord on sharing some military information.
Signed in 2016, the pact is a key element in the tripartite regional defense posture against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. If it's jettisoned, it would undermine their teamwork on security in Northeast Asia. Both Seoul and Tokyo are Washington's top allies in the region, where Beijing and Moscow are apparently trying to bolster their security ties.
Moon and Esper agreed on the need to resolve the issue of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in their halfhour Cheong Wa Dae meeting, but they did not go into details, a presidential official said.
They did not discuss North Korea's recent rocket launches or Seoul's possible role in the U.S.led campaign to secure free navigation through the Strait of Hormuz either, according to the Cheong Wa Dae official.
The official said the secretary paid a courtesy call on the president and that they had largely an introductory meeting with each other.
Moon, meanwhile, told Esper that denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang should move forward in tandem with the strengthening of the SeoulWashington alliance.
Moon said he believes Esper is the right person to maintain the robust alliance, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Minjung said in a press briefing earlier.
The president was quoted as stressing the need to buttress nuclear talks between North Korea and the U.S. as the alliance solidifies.
Esper expressed hope for the resumption of Washington's dialogue with Pyongyang at an early date, Ko said.
He cited a June 30 meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jongun at the DMZ village of Panmunjom, saying it created room for the two sides to continue talks.
Moon and Esper agreed on efforts for the smooth WashingtontoSeoul transfer of the authority for wartime operational control of South Korean troops, Ko said.
Before meeting with Moon, Esper had a series of talks with his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeongdoo, Foreign Minister Kang Kyungwha and Chung Euiyong, director of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, in Seoul.
Source: Yonhap news Agency