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(LEAD) Moon to meet Pentagon chief at Cheong Wa Dae

All Headlines 09:56 November 15, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with other attendees in paras 3-5)

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in plans to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday, his office announced, amid speculation that they may touch on such sensitive issues as the fate of a Seoul-Tokyo military information-sharing accord and the cost of hosting American troops here.

The Pentagon chief is scheduled to visit the presidential compound soon after having bilateral talks with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo. The defense chiefs of the two sides hold annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) talks to discuss pending alliance issues and regional and global security cooperation.

Moon's meeting with Esper is to start at 4 p.m. and is scheduled to last half an hour, a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

The other U.S. attendees will be Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander Gen. Robert Abrams, Ambassador Harry Harris and Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, according to the official.

It will be joined by several South Korean officials, as well, including the defense minister, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki, Chung Eui-yong, head of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office (NSO), and Kim You-geun, deputy director of the NSO.

This image of a South Korea-Japan accord on sharing military information was provided by Yonhap News TV. (Yonhap)

In the session, Moon may explain the background and rationale of his government's decision to terminate the agreement with Japan on exchanging military information. U.S. officials have called for the extension of the accord, known as GSOMIA, saying it's crucial in trilateral security partnerships in Northeast Asia.

Seoul and Washington are in also tough negotiations over sharing the cost for the presence of the 28,500-strong USFK. The Trump administration has been pressing Seoul to sharply raise its financial contribution.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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