Report: Bolton to deliver U.S. warning to Seoul

by WorldTribune Staff, July 21, 2019

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton will advise South Korea this week against nullifying a military agreement with Japan, a report said.

Bolton is expected to convey President Donald Trump’s message that canceling the accord “isn’t desirable” in terms of moving forward with the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, a presidential aide told The Korea Times on July 21.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.

“During a planned meeting with presidential National Security Office (NSO) chief Chung Eui-Yong, Bolton would pass on Washington’s stance that terminating the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is not desirable in light of the importance of the trilateral cooperation between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington in the peace process and nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea,” the aide said.

“Cheong Wa Dae will once again stress that U.S. intervention is quite necessary in resolving the Korea-Japan trade friction.”

RelatedTrump wondered why Moon seems ‘passive’ on trilateral alliance vs. N. Korea, China, June 18, 2019

Cheong Wa Dae (South Korea’s Blue House) on July 21 confirmed that Bolton will arrive in Seoul on July 23 for a two-day visit for talks with top Korean officials, including Chung, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha and Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-Doo.

“Discussions on key bilateral issues will take place,” South Korean presidential spokeswoman Ko Min-Jung said in a text sent to reporters.

“Bolton’s visit comes as Cheong Wa Dae is lashing out at Japan’s trade restrictions which are feared to hurt Korean manufacturers of chips and displays, the nation’s core export items,” the Korea Times report said.

Tensions between South Korea and Japan “escalated after the NSO chief hinted that the bilateral pact for sharing military information, GSOMIA, could be reconsidered during a meeting of President Moon Jae-In and leaders of major political parties last week,” the report said.

The U.S. has supported the GSOMIA “as an important tool for the trilateral security cooperation and wants to avoid such a drastic move which could raise tension in the region,” the Korea Times noted.

The Seoul-Tokyo trade conflict erupted after Tokyo restricted exports on July 4 on some high-tech materials used by Korean manufacturers.

Last week, Trump made his first mention of the dispute, saying he was willing to step in upon request from both leaders. He revealed that Moon had made a request for him to “get involved.” Cheong Wa Dae confirmed that Moon had made the request during his June 30 meeting with Trump in Seoul in an attempt to resolve the issue diplomatically.

A World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Geneva will discuss Japan’s export controls at the request of the Korean government on July 23 and 24.

“Ambassadors and officials from both countries will engage in a fierce debate to persuade the international community of their respective positions,” the Korea Times report said.

“Tokyo has resisted Seoul’s claims that the measures are in connection with a local ruling on a colonial conflict involving wartime forced labor, and has cited the need for tighter export controls due to Korea’s alleged trade violations and diversion of some strategic materials to North Korea.”

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