SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea is working on a plan to forge a military cooperation pact with China, the defense ministry said Monday, in what appears to be an effort to soften the possible backlash a similar accord with Japan could cause.
Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said that South Korea and China have shared the need for a mutual logistical support treaty for years as the two countries have conducted joint maritime exercises for humanitarian search and rescue operations.
Kim also said South Korea already signed such a treaty with Russia in 2009.
The pact, known as the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement or Mutual Logistic Support Agreement, calls for exchanging most common types of support, such as food, fuel, transportation, ammunition and equipment, during peacekeeping and other operations.
South Korea has also pushed to conclude one with Japan, which would mark the first-ever military agreement between the two countries since Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea. But the government has been cautious because forging a military pact with the former colonial ruler could cause a public backlash.
The two sides have been in final stages of talks on two agreements, one on logistics and the other on sharing military intelligence. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin had planned to visit Japan to sign the intelligence sharing pact, but the visit has been postponed at the last minute.
“We are still in talks with Japan,” ministry spokesman Kim said. “It is not that our push for a Korea-Japan information sharing agreement has been halted. We will continue to hold working-level consultations.”
The spokesman also stressed that the two countries are trying to forge the information sharing deal because it is necessary for U.N. peacekeeping operations and the two countries also want to share intelligence on missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.
Kim also dismissed speculation that military cooperation agreements between South Korea and Japan could escalate regional tensions as it would bring South Korea, Japan and the United States more militarily close against North Korea, China and Russia.
“We plan to push for military agreements between Korea and Japan after carefully taking various issues into consideration, such as the unique status of the relations between the two countries,” Kim said. (*)
SOURCE : YONHAP NEWS AGENCY
Posted Monday, May 21, 2012