The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States held telephone talks late Thursday and discussed a soon-to-expire military information-sharing pact between Seoul and Tokyo, and their ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiations, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
The phone talks between Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came just ahead of the planned expiration of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), set for Saturday.
The allies are also negotiating terms to decide how much Seoul should pay for its share of the cost of stationing 28,500 American troops in South Korea, amid Washington's demand for a hefty rise in the financial contribution. The latest talks in Seoul on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), a defense cost-sharing accord, were abruptly cut short Tuesday.
"The two sides agreed to continue close consultations on various issues at every level going forward. They also agreed on the need to meet in person at an early date for in-depth discussions and to work to coordinate the schedule," the ministry said in a release.
The U.S. State Department added that Kang and Pompeo "pledged to maintain close coordination and reaffirmed the importance of the ROK-Japan relationship."
ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.
Regarding GSOMIA, the U.S. has strongly called for South Korea to extend the pact, which it regards as a symbolic tool for trilateral security cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Seoul has maintained there will be no reversal of the decision as long as Tokyo does not withdraw the economic measures it imposed on its neighbor in apparent retaliation over wartime history issues.
Kang and Pompeo "praised the enduring strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance and both sides reiterated their commitment to cooperation in the Indo-Pacific," the State Department said in the readout. (Yonhap)