S.Korea rules out military co-op with Japan

By Jia Cheng

Japan called Tuesday for closer military ties with South Korea amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but Seoul immediately denied the possibility of a reported “joint declaration,” while both China and the US delivered their hopes of talks with Pyongyang.

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported Tuesday that Tokyo and Seoul plan to work on a joint declaration for enhancing military cooperation, when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visits Tokyo in the coming months.

A Japanese foreign ministry official, however, dismissed the media reports, telling Reuters that they were groundless.

Japanese and South Korean defense ministers will meet next week in Seoul to discuss boosting military exchange and cooperation. But Japan’s Toshimi Kitazawa and his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin “have no plans to sign a joint statement on security cooperation, when they meet” Monday, a South Korean defense ministry official told Reuters Tuesday.

Yang Bojiang, director of Japanese studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that Seoul won’t form a military alliance with Japan as a result of domestic pressure from South Koreans, who he said still strongly resent the Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

Additionally, Yang said, South Korea won’t risk irritating China and North Korea by forming such an alliance.

Separately, naval officials in Seoul have revealed that South Korean national marines and naval forces will independently hold two-day, joint war games this week to simulate an infiltration by North Korean troops across the border, according to AFP.

Tuesday, Stephen Bosworth, the US special envoy for North Korea policy, arrived in Seoul to coordinate stances on the Korean Peninsula.

“We believe that serious negotiations must be at the heart of any strategy for dealing with North Korea, and we look forward to being able to launch those at a reasonably early time,” Reuters quoted Bosworth as saying.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei reiterated at a regular press conference Tuesday that “the Six-Party Talks are an effective way to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to maintain regional peace and stability.”

Japan is also seeking direct negotiations to ease the tensions. Japanese foreign minister Seiji Maehara said Tuesday that Japan is willing to have “direct dialogues” with North Korea this year,

“Japan is trying to spread its influence in East Asia though proactive diplomatic strategies,” said Lü Chao, a researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences. “Tokyo wants to leverage its position in the Six-Party Talks by making a positive gesture.”

Agencies contributed to this story

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