23:00 GMT21 February 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The decision of the South Korean authorities to stop the exchange of intelligence with Japan complicates the protection of South Korea for the United States and increases the risks for the US forces, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Monday.

    On Thursday, Seoul announced the termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which had previously been renewed annually. Japan issued an official protest in response, claiming its partner's decision to be a "misread" of the regional security environment.

    "We are deeply disappointed and concerned that the ROK’s government terminated the General Security of Military Information Agreement #GSOMIA. This will make defending #Korea more complicated and increase risk to U.S. forces," Ortagus wrote on Twitter.

    Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed disappointment with this decision and urged countries to dialogue.

    Relations between Japan and South Korea soured after the latter's top court ruled that a number of Japanese companies could be sued for their use of forced labour during World War II. Japan has protested the decision, claiming that the agreement the two countries signed in 1965 had resolved the issue of damages once and for all.

    On August 2, Tokyo made a decision to stop treating Seoul as a trusted trade partner, implementing stricter customs procedures for a total of 1,194 items exported to South Korea.

    The GSOMIA, signed in 2016, allowed both countries to directly exchange classified information, bypassing Washington, which previously acted as a middle man between the two Asian nations.


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