A senior U.S. official on Saturday expressed readiness to urge South Korea to maintain its military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan.

“We do of course encourage the Korean side to return to this agreement because it benefits us, benefits you and it certainly benefits them as well,” David Stilwell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said at a news conference.

South Korea announced in August its decision to scrap the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, with Japan amid frayed bilateral ties over history and trade issues. The accord is slated to expire in November.

“We all recognized the importance of that” when North Korea fired what was believed to be a submarine-capable ballistic missile on Oct. 2, Stilwell said.

On decisions by Japan and South Korea to tighten export controls on each other in the lead-up to the GSOMIA announcement, Stilwell said economic issues should not be allowed to spill over into the field of security.

“We strongly encourage both sides to find creative solutions to this,” he said.

On how much the United States is willing to tolerate North Korea’s provocations with short-range ballistic missile launches, Stilwell merely said a vague red line creates room for negotiations.

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