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Korea, Japan fall short of forging military info sharing

South Korea shied away from forging a military intelligence sharing pact with Japan during talks between the leaders of the two countries in Laos, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

The long protracted issue of signing the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was discussed during the summit meeting between President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Vientiane, on Wednesday, Cho Jung-hyuck, spokesman of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, said during a regular briefing.

“(But) Securing the sufficient understanding and cooperation from the National Assembly and the public is necessary,” Cho quoted the South Korean side as having told the Japanese side.

Park and Abe are in the Southeast Asian country to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting and the East Asia Summit.  

The remarks suggest Park may have rejected Abe’s offer for the agreement‘s signing.

South Korea and Japan came close to forging the GSOMIA in 2012, but the final signing was aborted amid public protests in South Korea. Protestors then accused the South Korean government of attempting to sign the militarily sensitive deal with the former colonial ruler in a clandestine manner.

Since then, Japan had repeatedly proposed the agreement with South Korea on the occasions of high-level talks. 

Regarding the GSOMNIA issue, a presidential official said that the government’s basic position is to make judgment after “carefully” considering the security environment and people‘s views.

The latest summit was also a venue for Japan to renew its call to remove a statue of a girl in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

The two countries agreed on a measure in December to end their long-running diplomatic feuds over Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women. In return for the deal, Japan has been demanding that the South Korean government relocate the bronze statue symbolizing the sexual enslavement victims.

The demand was again brought up during the Park-Abe talks.  

“South Korea‘s stance is clear and consistent,” Cho said, referring to the government position that it has no authority to remove the civic group-erected statue. (Yonhap)
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