SEOUL-- South Korea and Japan should first restore bilateral trust before staging a joint military exercise, Seoul's foreign ministry said, reaffirming that trilateral training involving the United States is unlikely under the current political conditions.
"As you are well aware, the United States is our sole military ally," Choi Young-sam, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing. "Our government's position remains unchanged that military cooperation between South Korea and Japan should be preceded by the restoration of bilateral trust and public consensus on the issue."
However, he added, South Korea "shares the perception that security cooperation among the South, the U.S. and Japan is important to respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats."
Seoul and Tokyo remain locked in longstanding standoffs over shared history, especially related to Japan's brutal colonization of Korea from 1910-45, amid no letup in their territorial row over Dokdo, a set of South Korea-controlled rocky islets in the East Sea.
Earlier in the day, the Seoul-based Hankyoreh daily reported Washington and Tokyo have repeatedly proposed combined drills in waters off the Korean Peninsula during recent high-profile three-way consultations. But the Moon Jae-in administration has not consented to the offer, it added, citing "multiple high-level diplomatic sources privy to relevant consultations."
Source: Yonhap News Agency