Senior U.S. diplomat in Seoul for talks as GSOMIA termination looms
Updated: 2019-11-06 13:30:12 KST
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stilwell, is in Seoul for a series of meetings with South Korean officials.
His visit has drawn more attention than it might normally do because a joint military intel-sharing pact between Seoul and Tokyo is set to expire within weeks and it's a deal Washington wants extended.
For more, we have our Kim Min-ji on the line.
Min-ji, what's the latest?
Devin, Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell was at Seoul's defense ministry for talks with South Korean officials, including Deputy Defense Minister Chung Suk-hwan.
Upon arriving, he said he has had fantastic discussions today on topics of agreement.
That's the response he gave as reporters asked whether GSOMIA, a military intel-sharing pact between South Korea and Japan, came up during his sit down with Seoul's foreign minister earlier this morning.
We don't know for sure if it was a direct response to the GSOMIA question, but what we do know is that Washington wants this pact extended.
In fact, a lot of attention has been on the message Stilwell will deliver regarding Seoul's decision to pull out of the intel-sharing pact with Tokyo.
In August, Seoul decided not to extend the pact in response to Japan's economic retaliation over a court ruling ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.
It was widely speculated that Stilwell would urge South Korea to retract its decision, citing the importance of trilateral security cooperation.
We understand Stilwell met with Seoul's foreign minister and vice minister earlier today. Was anything significant addressed there?
Well, Stilwell told reporters after the meetings that key issues in their bilateral relationship were discussed.
He didn't answer questions regarding GSOMIA, but something to note is that he stressed the U.S. sees the meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an encouraging sign.
If you recall, Moon and Abe had a roughly 10-minute conversation on the sidelines of ASEAN meetings in Bangkok a couple of days back.
Stilwell also emphasized that the South Korea-U.S. alliance is the linchpin of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.
So there hasn't been any public pressure from Washington but there's speculation that the issue was brought up during their closed door discussions.
That's all I have for now, back to you Devin.