South Korea has reiterated its plans to terminate a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a symbolic deal between the two major U.S. allies.
"Our position on the termination of GSOMIA hasn't changed," according to a presidential Blue House official who declined to be identified, confirming the Nov. 23 termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement signed three years ago. "We don't think the termination would weaken the alliance with the U.S."
The report followed Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha's comments at parliament earlier in the day, where she said the decision "disappointed" the U.S., and Seoul would reconsider the termination of the pact if Japan cancels its July move to restrict exports to South Korea.
Kang also acknowledged that any decision to terminate the pact would likely benefit China and North Korea, the South's Yonhap news agency reported. Washington has opposed the decision, piling pressure on Seoul to rethink it while also stressing the importance of trilateral security cooperation in the face of Pyongyang's 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," she said.
Relations between the two U.S. allies have soured to the worst level in decades since the South Korean Supreme Court ordered a Japanese company to compensate former Korean workers conscripted during the 1910-1945 colonial times. Japan, which says all such claims were settled under a 1965 treaty, responded with tighter checks on exports to South Korea, citing national security concerns. Seoul has also stripped its neighbor from a list of trusted export destinations.