Intel-sharing pact with Japan may be signed

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Intel-sharing pact with Japan may be signed

Seoul and Tokyo will tentatively sign a bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) next week, according to the Ministry of Defense on Friday.

The two countries last month resumed negotiations for the first time in four years to better respond to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats.

Moon Sang-kyun, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said in a briefing, “We reached an agreement with Japan on key terms during the two rounds of working-level meetings on Nov. 1 and 9. We will schedule the third meeting as early as next week to tentatively sign a bilateral pact and discuss its finalization.”

The Defense Ministry has emphasized that information-sharing with Tokyo will be helpful to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. If this bilateral pact is sealed, it is expected to streamline exchanges of information between Seoul and Tokyo without Washington as an intermediary.

But opposition parties are demanding the Korea-Japan negotiations be scrapped.

“The three opposition parties agreed to submit a resolution pressing for an immediate halt in negotiations,” chief policymaker of the Minjoo Party Yun Ho-jung said. “If the government fails to comply, we will recommend the dismissal of the national defense minister.”

The two countries were close to sealing a deal in 2012, which fell apart at the last minute after backlash in Seoul. There was a domestic outcry over the secretive nature of the negotiations and ongoing bilateral mistrust over unresolved historical and territorial disputes with Japan.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO AND SARAH KIM [kim.yuna1@joongang.co.kr]

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