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Pompeo voices hope S. Korea, Japan will mend ties

All Headlines 04:02 August 23, 2019

By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced hope Thursday that South Korea and Japan will mend their ties following Seoul's withdrawal from a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.

Earlier, Seoul announced its decision to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement amid a bilateral dispute over trade and history.

"We're disappointed to see the decision that the South Koreans made about that information-sharing agreement," the top U.S. diplomat told reporters at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart in Ottawa, Canada.

This Reuters file photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Yonhap)

"We were urging each of the two countries to continue to engage, to continue to have dialogue," he said, adding that he spoke with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in the morning.

Ending GSOMIA added to already high tensions between Seoul and Tokyo following Japan's decision to curb exports to South Korea in early July.

Seoul denounced the trade measure as retaliation for a South Korean court ruling over Japan's use of forced labor during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The dispute escalated with Japan's delisting in August of South Korea from a list of trusted trading partners and Seoul's tit-for-tat action to remove Tokyo from its own list.

"There is no doubt that the shared interests of Japan and South Korea are important and they're important to the United States of America," Pompeo said. "We hope each of those two countries can begin to put that relationship back in exactly the right place."

The secretary noted that Kang and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono met in Beijing on Wednesday to try to resolve the dispute.

"It's absolutely valuable not only to the work you mentioned in the context of North Korea, but important in the work we do all around the world," he said of the Seoul-Tokyo relationship. "They are both great partners and friends of the United States and we are hopeful they can make progress together."


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