S. Korea, Japan hold working-level talks ahead of GSOMIA expiry

SEOUL-- South Korea and Japan held working-level diplomatic talks on Friday ahead of the planned expiration of a military intelligence-sharing pact between the two neighbors.

Kim Jung-han, director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs at the foreign ministry, met his Japanese counterpart, Shigeki Takizaki, in Tokyo, Seoul's foreign ministry said. They last held talks in Seoul on Oct. 16.

His trip came as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is set to expire on Nov. 23 unless Seoul reverses its decision to end the pact.

Seoul announced the decision in August after Tokyo imposed economic restrictions on Seoul in political retaliation for last year's Korean Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the peninsula.

In Friday's talks, the two sides found themselves still far apart over the issue, only to reconfirm their basic positions.

Kim recalled that Japan's export curbs on Seoul are "unjust and of a retaliatory nature," and called for swift retraction of the measures, Seoul's foreign ministry said in a release.

They also exchanged their positions regarding the South Korean court rulings on forced laborers and discussed ways to resolve the matter, while agreeing to continue the dialogue in the future, the ministry said.

Washington has been heaping pressure on Seoul to reconsider the decision on the military agreement, which it regards as a key platform for trilateral security cooperation with its two Asian allies.

Seoul maintains that any reconsideration would be possible only after Japan first reverses course and removes the export curbs.

In June, Seoul put forward the so-called one-plus-one proposal under which South Korean and Japanese firms would create a joint fund to compensate the victims of forced labor as a solution to the dispute.

But Tokyo opposes any deal that would involve Japanese firms based on its claim that all reparation issues stemming from its colonial rule were settled under a 1965 accord aimed at normalizing bilateral relations.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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