WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. official says a proposed U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement will not provide a back door for imports to the United States from communist North Korea.

The top U.S. diplomat for east Asia, Kurt Campbell, told lawmakers Thursday that the pact, which is pending congressional approval, is in the “strategic interests” of the U.S.

Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman contended the agreement would provide access for goods from South Korea which were partially made in China and North Korea.

Campbell said the pact had “clear protections” and the U.S. had made it clear to ally South Korea that “we will not import goods produced in North Korea.”

The Obama administration says the pact will support 70,000 new jobs in America.