Washington expressed strong concern and disappointment after Seoul announced that it is scrapping the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo. It also showed its displeasure with Cheong Wa Dae’s remark that the U.S. had expressed its understanding of South Korea’s decision to end the military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, saying it is not true. It was unusual for the Trump administration to directly refute Cheong Wa Dae’s statement, calling it “the Moon Jae-in administration” instead of South Korea. Seoul’s decision to withdraw from the GSOMIA is negatively affecting the ROK-U.S. alliance with Washington expressing strong dissatisfaction with the decision.
“We’re disappointed to see the decision the South Koreans made about that information-sharing agreement,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is visiting Canada. Pompeo said he had spoken to his South Korean counterpart, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, in the morning, adding he hopes that the two countries “can begin to put that relationship back in exactly the right place.”
The U.S. State Department issued a statement and said the decision “reflects a serious misapprehension on the part of the Moon administration regarding the serious security challenges we face in Northeast Asia.” The Pentagon reacted with dismay by issuing two statements, saying it expresses its strong concern and disappointment over the Moon administration’s decision and it strongly believes that “the integrity of our mutual defense and security ties must persist.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper spoke on the phone with his counterpart Jeong Kyeong-doo earlier in the day and expressed his concern over the trilateral security cooperation among South Korea, the U.S., and Japan. The Trump administration expressed its strong discontent publicly even though the South Korean government made efforts to explain its decision through all channels, including the national security council (NSC), foreign minister, and defense minister.
In particular, a high-ranking official at the White House refuted Cheong Wa Dae’s remark that the U.S. “understood” South Korea’s decision by saying the U.S. has not expressed its understanding on the issue and it was more like “informing” rather than explaining.
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