The United States reiterated its expression of “disappointment” Wednesday despite South Korea’s request for refraining from criticizing Seoul’s decision to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), a military-intelligence sharing pact with Tokyo.
“I was, and remain, very disappointed that both parties are engaged in (a dispute),” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during his first joint news conference at the Pentagon with Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The latter chimed in Esper’s view, saying, “I share the secretary's disappointment in what I view as a setback in the relationship between South Korea and Japan. I think that's a very important relationship.” It was also the first time that senior U.S. officials publicly expressed their disappointment over Japan as well amid an escalating feud between South Korea and Japan over Tokyo’s export curbs against Seoul.
Without giving a concrete answer to a question over Seoul’s request that Washington refrain from public messaging against Seoul's recent decision to terminate the GSOMIA, the U.S. State Department has reaffirmed its expression of “strong concerns and disappointment” over the decision.
An official at Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said that although South Korea has an alliance and should promote friendship with the United States, “nothing takes precedence” over South Korea’s national interest. The official added that Seoul will have more communication with Washington to seek its understanding of Seoul’s position and “do its best” to leave no gap in communicating with Washington in all areas, including security, economy and diplomacy.