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South Korea extending pact with Japan for sake of alliances, report says

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea extending pact with Japan for sake of alliances, report says
Kim You-geun, the first deputy chief of the security office at the Blue House, announces South Korea's decision to conditionally suspend the expiration of the General Security of Military Information Agreement  with Japan,in Seoul on Friday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Seoul agreed to conditionally extend a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact with Japan on Friday for the sake of maintaining a strong alliance with the United States, according to a South Korean press report.

News 1 reported Friday a senior official of the presidential Blue House said concerns over the impact termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement would have on the U.S.-Korea alliance factored into the decision to retain the pact beyond a Saturday deadline.

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"The U.S.-South Korea alliance is a solidly rooted alliance, and a very reciprocal alliance and has been for close to 70 years," the Seoul official said. "Temporary conflicts between Korea and Japan cannot undermine the foundation of this solid alliance."

The report came an hour after Kim You-geun, the first deputy chief of the security office at the Blue House, made the official announcement.

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Kim said Friday the government decided to "suspend the effect of the Aug. 23 communication" on GSOMIA, and that Tokyo responded with a memorandum of understanding, television network SBS reported.

The Blue House may have also extended GSOMIA to address concerns North Korea or China could gain an advantage in the region as Seoul and Tokyo reduce cooperation on security, according to News 1.

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Last week during his visit to Seoul, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper voiced concern about benefits to Beijing and Pyongyang.

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But Seoul could be looking beyond the "past Cold War confrontation framework" that pits China, Russia and North Korea against the United States, South Korea and Japan, News 1's source suggested.

South Korea is also de-escalating tensions with Japan on the trade front by halting a complaint at the World Trade Organization over Japan's export curbs.

Japan's NHK reported Tokyo is keeping the curbs, despite Seoul's call for their removal. Japan is open to talks with Korea on trade, however.

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Tokyo sees the trade restrictions as a "separate matter," Kyodo News reported Friday.

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