‘Discrepancy remains in defense deal’

08-Nov-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A large discrepancy remains in place over the ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiation between Seoul and Washington, South Korea’s Foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said, Thursday.

“Under the common goal of maintaining solid security postures, both sides are in talks for the third round of the Special Measures Agreement (SMA). But there remains a large discrepancy in views on the issue between the allies,” Kang told lawmakers during the National Assembly’s plenary session.

The remark came a day after she met with David R. Stilwell, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, for talks on pending security affairs here, such as the SMA and the suspended nuclear disarmament dialogue between the US and North Korea.

Stilwell also met with National Security Office Second deputy director Kim Hyun-chong on the same day for 70 minutes when both sides exchanged what the presidential house said are “specific and constructive” views on the SMA.

She did not reveal any details on the dispute between South Korea and Japan during her meeting with Stilwell. “Stilwell did not come only for discussion on general Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA),” she said, declining to comment further.

On Wednesday morning, South Korea’s prime minister Lee Nak-yon, who also attended a meeting at the Assembly, reiterated South Korea’s position on GSOMIA, saying that there remains a wide gap in views on the feud between the two countries.

“We have not changed our stance that we will reconsider the decision on GSOMIA when Japan withdraws from a series of unfair economic measures that the country has taken since this July,” Lee said. The deadline for the possible extension of GSOMIA is at the end of November 22.

FM Kang shared the same view on the dispute, saying that South Korea will not reverse its earlier decision unless Japan withdraws the trade restrictions and recovers bilateral trust.

Two NK sailors repatriated to North

Unification minister Kim Yeon-chul also attended the plenary session at the Assembly, and was bombarded with questions about two North Korean sailors who were repatriated on Wednesday afternoon.

The Ministry of Unification said the South Korean Navy captured a North Korean boat November 2 in waters near the inter-Korean eastern maritime border.

But the government decided to repatriate them, as they killed 16 other sailors on board before they were captured.

“At 3:10 p.m., Wednesday, the government repatriated the two North Korean sailors to the North through the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjeom,” ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said in a media briefing.

“The decision to repatriate was made in consideration that they were brutal criminals posing security threats to South Korean nationals’ safety,” he said.

This came at a crucial time when inter-Korean relations are showing gradual signs of worsening after the North decided to remove South Korean-built resort facilities in the North’s Mount Geumgang last month.



Category: Korea

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