By Chung Min-uck
Foreign minister Kim Sung-hwan proposed Seoul and Beijing sign a military pact similar to that of the stalled intelligence protection agreement with Tokyo during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, according to the foreign ministry Friday.
A foreign ministry official said “Kim requested Yang sign a General Security of Military Information Act (GSOMIA) much the same as the Korea-Japan agreement,” during Thursday’s bilateral talks held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Cambodia. The GSOMIA with Japan was put off last month amid a backlash from the general public and bipartisan parties.
The minister’s move comes as lawmakers here have called for signing a GSOMIA also with China, the nation’s No.1 trading partner, to avoid accusations that the Korea-Japan agreement is part of a stronger trilateral military alliance including the United States and to contain Beijing.
Kim was quoted as saying during the bilateral talks that “the Korea-Japan intelligence pact and the trilateral cooperation aim to deter North Korea’s provocation” and “does not mean to stimulate or target China.”
The Chinese foreign minister said he is watching how things progress, according to a foreign ministry official.
Seoul and Beijing have been in low key talks regarding the proposed pact.
Observers say the talks on signing the envisioned Korea-Japan intelligence pact will gain momentum as it has now surfaced.
Meanwhile, Rep. Shim Yoon-joe, a former diplomat and ruling Saenuri Party member, stressed earlier during the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee’s plenary session, the necessity of “simultaneously processing the signing of a GSOMIA with both Japan and China” to “wipe out the allegation that the Korea-Japan military pact is a stepping stone to trilateral cooperation to check China.”