U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called on South Korea and Japan to work together to renew their bilateral military intel-sharing pact, GSOMIA.
Speaking Friday at a joint press conference with South Korea's Defense Minister, Jeong Kyeong-doo, following their annual Security Consultative Meeting, the Pentagon chief said that ending GSOMIA will only benefit North Korea and China calling it an important tool, especially in times of war.
"The only ones who will benefit from expiration of GSOMIA and continued friction between Seoul and Tokyo are Pyongyang and Beijing. That reason alone should be powerful enough for us to sit down and make sure we restore our alliance to where it was so we can work together to respond to our common threats and challenges."
GSOMIA is set to automatically expire on November 23rd.
Seoul decided not to renew the pact in August after Japan slapped export curbs on South Korea, citing a breach of trust on security issues.
South Korea is firm on its stance that it can only reconsider if Japan first changes course.
"I hope we have good discussions with Japan in a positive direction during the time we have left."
On the issue of sharing the cost of stationing American troops on the Korean Peninsula, Esper said that South Korea is a wealthy country and that it can and should pay more.
He didn't elaborate, however, on any figures.
The two allies are currently in talks with Washington reportedly calling on Seoul to pay nearly five billion U.S. dollars a year, which is more than five times the amount South Korea agreed to pay under the current deal.
Seoul's defense chief said that the two sides agreed to decide on a figure that's fair and acceptable to both South Korea and the U.S.
The two sides also reaffirmed their joint goal of achieving North Korea's complete denuclearization and of building lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
They agreed on the need to be flexible in adjusting their joint military drills to support diplomatic efforts with Pyeongyang, but didn't elaborate on they will do about upcoming exercises.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.