Korea, US sign W1.04 tril. cost-sharing deal for USFK

Cheryl Sanders
February 12, 2019

Unlike past agreements, which lasted for five years, this one is expected to expire in a year, potentially forcing both sides back to the bargaining table within months.

The agreement has yet to be ratified by South Korean lawmakers, which is a necessary step before the deal's terms go into effect, the BBC reported. -North Korea summit due to take place at the end of the month in Hanoi, Vietnam. Late previous year, the USA 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.

President Moon Jae-in also has been credited with playing a mediator role in persuading North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to engage in diplomacy aimed at ridding his country of nuclear weapons.

"The US government realizes that Korea does a lot for the alliance and for peace and stability of this region", Betts said. "The SMA is only a small part of that". "We are very pleased that our consultations resulted in an agreement, and I think that will deepen our cooperation in the alliance".

The approximately 8 percent increase in payments by South Korea to the United States is likely to check one of the boxes on US President Donald Trump's "to do" list. He also has insisted that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members increase their contributions, and the issue is expected to arise soon in Japan in talks on funding the 50,000 USA troops based there.

But Trump told United States broadcaster CBS last week that he had "no plans" to remove U.S. troops from South Korea as part of a deal at the upcoming summit, although he admitted "maybe someday" he would withdraw them, adding: "It's very expensive to keep troops there".

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

The allies struggled to reach a breakthrough despite 10 rounds of talks since March, amid Trump's repeated calls for a sharp increase in South Korea's contribution.

Seoul said Sunday it agreed to hike its payment for maintaining American troops on its soil, settling a dispute with its longtime ally ahead of a second summit between the USA and North Korea.

Many analysts expressed concern he may make a similar gesture in his upcoming talks with Kim.

The Singapore summit resulted in a joint agreement in which Kim committed to denuclearize his nation, pursue peace with South Korea, establish relations with the United States, and repatriate the remains of American soldiers. The big USA 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.

Seoul contributes around 70 percent to cover the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the USA military.

A Patriot missile launcher enters Osan Air Base, South Korea, during Bravo Battery, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion's field training exercise conducted November 27 to December 7, 2018.

The South also paid the bulk of the more than $11 billion price tag for expanding the Camp Humphreys Army garrison as part of a long-delayed plan to relocate most Americans south of Seoul.

Other reports by iNewsToday