South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Friday the “groundwork” has been laid for South Korea to persuade Japan to withdraw its trade curbs against Seoul, after the two agreed on measures that delayed the final decision on the ongoing row over a military intelligence-sharing pact.
Speaking to reporters just before departing to Nagoya, Japan to attend a foreign ministerial meeting of Group of 20 nations, Kang also said Seoul’s position has not changed much.
“I believe the groundwork is laid for Japan to withdraw its export curbs, which is what we wanted, and we will work to achieve that goal,” Kang said at Incheon Airport before her departure.
Just before departing, Seoul and Tokyo announced they have agreed to continue to negotiate on the General Security of Military Information Agreement, a military intelligence-sharing pact that the neighboring countries first inked in 2016.
With Japan imposing export curbs against South Korea in July, citing a lack of trust, Seoul first announced it would pull out from the GSOMIA on Aug. 23, saying it does not make sense to share sensitive information with Tokyo in such a situation.
Just six hours before the expiration of the intelligence-sharing agreement, Seoul said it decided to halt the effect of its August announcement and set the condition that the effect of GSOMIA can be ended at any time.
Tokyo simultaneously announced that it will resume dialogue on trade to discuss its export controls and the removal of Seoul from the favored trading partners’ list.
“The two sides have held negotiations in the past days. And I can say, we have earned some time,” Kang said, adding that her government’s stance has not changed much.
Korea had maintained that it would only review renewing the intelligence-sharing pact upon Japan normalizing trade.
The Foreign Ministry here said Kang is expected to hold one-on-one talks with her Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi on Saturday. In the two-day G20 meeting she may also meet with David Stilwell, the US assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific affairs, and John Sullivan, US deputy secretary of state.
Washington, which prodded the two countries to ink the GSOMIA, had strongly been calling for its two Asian allies to maintain the intelligence-sharing pact, citing its importance for trilateral security alliance.
Late on Thursday, Kang had spoken over the phone with US Secretary of Mike Pompeo to discuss the GSOMIA and the ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiations between the two for the maintenance of US troops in Korea, the Foreign Ministry said.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org