(LEAD) GSOMIA still 'viable option' for S. Korea: Cheong Wa Dae
(ATTN: UPDATES with alliance, N. Korea issue in last 6 paras)
SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- Maintaining South Korea's agreement with Japan on exchanging military information is a "viable option" depending on the neighboring country's attitude on its export control against Seoul, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Wednesday.
The official was responding to a news report that the office of President Moon Jae-in is pushing for the scrapping of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) amid no meaningful progress in related consultations between the two sides.
"GSOMIA is still a viable option for us. It currently remains sheathed," the official said on condition of anonymity, adding there's no final decision internally made yet.
Seoul initially decided to terminate the accord last November in protest of Tokyo's export curbs, apparently connected with a row over shared history, but it later suspended the move after a bilateral deal on working-level discussions on trade affairs.
Japan then eased some export restrictions, but South Korea dismissed the measure as insufficient.
"Our position remains firm that Japan should return the situation to the level before the export regulations," the Cheong Wa Dae official stressed.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha stated last week that her country has the right to "reactivate" the termination of GSOMIA any time.
The JoongAng Ilbo reported that Cheong Wa Dae is leaning toward discarding the pact and instructed Kang's ministry to review an action plan. It cited an unidentified "source" privy to Seoul-Tokyo relations and trilateral ties involving Washington.
The Seoul-based daily said Cheong Wa Dae officials want to resolve the GSOMIA matter no later than the end of March, with the general elections slated for April 15.
Moon is scheduled to deliver his March 1 Independence Movement speech, in which he would offer an update on his administration's position on the Japan issue.
The official emphasized that South Korea is not tying its reported pursuit of expanding the scope of missile development to negotiations with the United States on sharing defense costs.
"It's completely untrue," the official said.
On a separate media report that President Donald Trump is not interested in holding a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before the November presidential election, the official pointed out that it's not based on any "formal" statement from the U.S. authorities.
According to "two sources familiar with the discussions," CNN said, Trump has told top foreign policy advisers that he does not want another summit with Kim ahead of the poll.
The Cheong Wa Dae official would not confirm whether the U.S. has informed South Korea of any relevant plan or decision.
Two other Cheong Wa Dae officials -- National Security Adviser Kim Hyun-chong and Secretary for Peace Planning Choi Jong-kun -- are known to have traveled to Washington D.C. recently for consultations with their American counterparts.
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