S.Korea foreign ministry: Minister's comment reflects regional security stance

South Korea's foreign ministry spokesperson says Foreign Minister Park Jin was speaking in line with the country's basic stance on regional security cooperation in a comment on the status of an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.

Park said in a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Monday that the implementation of the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, with Japan should be normalized.

Japan and South Korea signed GSOMIA in 2016. But in 2019, the administration of then-President Moon Jae-in notified Japan it was considering scrapping the accord after Tokyo tightened controls on exports to South Korea.

Seoul later decided to maintain the agreement, but has claimed it could scrap it at any time.

Observers say that by stressing the importance of GSOMIA, the administration of President Yoon Suk-yeol, which took office last month, hopes to highlight its willingness to improve ties with Japan.

But some local media outlets have expressed doubts about whether it will be possible to normalize GSOMIA with Japan's export controls still in place.

The foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday that Park had stressed the need for smooth security cooperation with Japan and the United States to deal with the threat posed by North Korea.

A ministry official said that Tokyo and Seoul are both well aware of the sticking points in bilateral relations and noted that constructive dialogue on these and other matters continues.

Park is making arrangements to travel to Japan after his US visit.

President Yoon is scheduled to attend a NATO summit in Spain later this month. If Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio attends the gathering, the two could hold a bilateral summit on the sidelines.