By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- The United States continues to call on South Korea to renew its military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a U.S. defense official said Thursday.
David Helvey, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, made the remark at a security forum as he reiterated Washington's concern with Seoul's decision to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo amid a bilateral dispute over wartime history and trade.
"We strongly believe in the integrity of our mutual defense, and our security ties must persist despite the frictions in other areas of the South Korea and Japan relationship," Helvey said at the discussion hosted by the Institute for Corean-American Studies.
"That's why we again call on the Republic of Korea to renew GSOMIA ... with Japan. And we call on both sides to participate in meaningful dialogue to address their differences," he said. "When our allies -- Korea and Japan -- feud, the only winners are our competitors."
South Korea's decision in August to end GSOMIA dealt a blow to Washington as it viewed the pact as a platform for trilateral security cooperation against North Korea's nuclear threats and China's military rise.
The U.S. has urged the South to renew the deal before it expires in late November.
Helvey also noted that the Pentagon remains in support of diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea, led by the State Department.
"To do so, we provide credible military capabilities that provide deterrence and that allow our diplomats to negotiate from positions of strength," he said.
Meanwhile, Helvey underscored the U.S. commitment to getting allies to pay more for shared defense, a sensitive topic amid ongoing negotiations between Seoul and Washington to renew their cost-sharing deal.
"We're also focused -- and this is something that the president has been keenly interested in -- and that's making sure that we're getting the right type of host nation support agreements with our allies and partners," he said. "We firmly believe that by sharing the burden, it helps to lighten the load that everyone carries."
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