(ATTN: UPDATES with comment by S. Korean official; ADDS photo)
By Kim Kwang-tae
WASHINGTON, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has said that right conditions must be created for it to ink a military pact with Japan, an official said, rekindling the controversy on an intelligence-sharing agreement with the country's former colonial ruler.
"Our position remains unchanged that the creation of an environment is needed" to sign any deal, a senior presidential secretary said late Thursday of the summit between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington.
He did not elaborate on what he meant by environment and asked not to be identified, citing policy.
Japan has been pushing for the General Security of Military Information Agreement to better cope with the threat posed by North Korea.
In 2012, South Korea and Japan agreed to sign the pact meant to ensure the protection of military intelligence shared between South Korea and Japan.
Still, Seoul put off the planned signing of the pact at the last minute due to public uproar over revelations South Korea's Cabinet secretively approved the pact.
Many South Koreans still harbor deep resentment toward Japan, which ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-45.
The summit is the first face-to-face meeting between Park and Abe since December when Seoul and Tokyo produced a landmark deal on resolving the issue of the Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II.
Under the agreement, Japan formally apologized for its past actions and offered 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) in reparations. South Korea agreed to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fully implements the deal.
Park and Abe agreed to make efforts to implement the deal in good faith, the senior presidential secretary said.
The official said Abe did not demand that South Korea remove the symbolic statue at the heart of lingering diplomatic tensions with Japan during the summit held on the sidelines of a summit on nuclear security.
Tokyo has demanded that the bronze statue of a girl symbolizing former South Korean sex slaves for Japan's World War II soldiers be removed from outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
South Korea has pledged to make efforts to help address Tokyo's demand "in an appropriate manner," though it says it is a matter to be decided by local activists who placed it there in the first place.
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