November 14, 2016 13:07
Korea and Japan will this week wrap up an almost completed agreement on sharing military intelligence, Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said Friday.
It just took less than three weeks to reach a preliminary agreement since the government announced in late October that Seoul and Tokyo decided to resume intelligence-sharing talks.
The defense ministers of both sides are apparently ready to sign the preliminary deal as early as Monday, and the complete agreement could be signed before the year is out.
Asked whether the government is rushing the deal, the Defense Ministry said the matter is "extremely necessary" for national security.
One intelligence source said, "There have been several instances when intelligence gathered by Japanese Aegis vessels and P-3C surveillance aircraft were not handed directly to us but sent via the U.S., which wasted a lot of time. The U.S. brought the problem up in foreign affairs and defense talks in Washington last month, which is why we're speeding up the deal."
But critics warn that there is no public mood for closer military cooperation with the former occupying power and the timing is bad amid the current paralysis of government as a massive influence-peddling scandal engulfs President Park Geun-hye.
A similar deal was scrapped in 2012 amid mounting criticism that the government was trying to smuggle it past the public.
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