U.S., South Korea strike cost-sharing deal for American troops

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig

South Korea signs deal to pay more for US troops

According to Reuters, South Korean officials wanted to cap spending at one trillion won (the new total works out to 1.03 trillion) and sign a three-year agreement, while the usa wanted 1.4 trillion won.

A senior ROK ruling party legislator said last month that negotiations were deadlocked after the United States made a "sudden, unacceptable" demand that Seoul pay more than 1.4 trillion won per year.

South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday on how much Seoul should pay for the USA military presence on its soil, after previous rounds of failed negotiations caused worries about their decades-long alliance.

The burden-sharing talks were a test for Trump's insistence that US allies should pay more for their own defense.

The United States, meanwhile, reaffirmed the need for a "stable US military deployment" and offered assurances that it has no plans to change the number of forces on the divided peninsula, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

The deal - which must still be ratified by South Korea's National Assembly - resolves a dispute between the longtime allies at a crucial time, with a second U.S.

"It has been a very long process, but ultimately a very successful process", ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters.

Timothy Betts (L), acting deputy assistant secretary and senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements in the U.S. Department of State and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, on February 10, 2019.

"The United States government realizes that Korea does a lot for our alliance and for peace and stability in this region", Betts said. Late past year, the US military had warned the South Korean employees on its bases that they may be put on leave from mid-April if no agreement was reached.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) with President Donald Trump at the start of their historic summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Prior to the spending increase, South Korea covered about 40 percent of the cost of constructing and maintaining US military facilities. Yonhap said the US had previously demanded 1.13 trillion won ($1 billion) from South Korea. "But it's an important part and we are pleased that our consultations resulted in an agreement that I think will strengthen transparency and strengthen and deepen our cooperation in the alliance".

Trump told CBS' Face the Nation last Sunday that he had no plans to withdraw troops from South Korea.

After the June meeting, Trump announced a halt to joint military exercises with South Korea, saying they were expensive and paid for mostly by the United States.

However, he added "maybe someday", reiterating that he would like to save the money.

The allies had struggled to reach a breakthrough despite 10 rounds of talks since March, amid Trump's repeated calls for a sharp increase in the ROK's contribution. After being briefed by Biegun about his Pyongyang trip, South Korea's presidential office said Sunday that US and North Korean officials plan to meet again the week of February 17 in an unidentified Asian country.

The big United States military presence in South Korea is a symbol of the countries' alliance, forged in blood during the war, but also a source of long-running anti-American sentiments.

About 70 percent of Seoul's contribution covers the salaries of some 8,700 ROK employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the USA military. Seoul's Foreign Ministry said the USA had called for a sharp increase in South Korean spending but didn't elaborate.

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