İrem UZUN -TDO - In a major policy reversal, South Korea said Friday it has decided to continue, at least temporarily, a 2016 military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan that it previously said it would terminate amid ongoing tensions over wartime history and trade.
The bombshell announcement was made by the Blue House, the South Korean presidential residence, in a Friday evening press conference by Kim You-geun, the deputy director of the National Security Office. The General Sharing or Military Intelligence Agreement, or GSOMIA, had been set to expire after midnight. In an escalation of a historical-diplomatic-trade dispute with Tokyo, Seoul announced in August it would not renew the GSOMIA, the only formal pact linking the Japanese and South Korean militaries.
If happened, the expiry of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was to intensify discord between South Korea and the U.S., which wants its two Asian allies to keep their dispute out of security cooperation matters. The U.S., South Korea and Japan signed the Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement (TISA) in 2014, but it is limited to information regarding Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. GSOMIA covers broader intelligence. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday expressed his gladness with South Korea's decision. "I stressed the importance of cooperation between Japan and South Korea, and Japan, South Korea and the United States," Abe said after Seoul informed Tokyo of its decision.