South Korea, US sign new cost-sharing deal for US troops

South Korea signs deal to pay more for US troops

Unlike prior deals, which have lasted five years, the one signed on February 10 expires in one year.

South Korea a year ago provided about $830 million, covering roughly 40 percent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 US soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea.

While acknowledging lingering domestic criticism of the new deal and the need for parliamentary approval, Kang said the response had "been positive so far". President Donald Trump has said South Korea should pay more.

About 28,500 USA troops are stationed in the ROK, where the United States has maintained a military presence since the 1950-53 Korean War.

U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Stephen Biegun (L) shakes hands with the ROK's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Seoul, ROK, February 9, 2019. Prior to the spending increase, South Korea covered about 40 percent of the cost of constructing and maintaining USA military facilities.

The compromise calls for South Korea to pay 1.0389 trillion won, or $920 million, this year to offset the cost of maintaining some 28,500 American troops, officials said. "We are very pleased that our consultations resulted in an agreement, and I think that will deepen our cooperation in the alliance".

The allies also missed the December 31 deadline in 2013, but they managed to reach a deal a few weeks later when South Korea agreed to increase its contribution by 5.8 percent, with a 4-percent cap on the inflation rate.

"The United States government realizes that South Korea (the ROK) does a lot for our alliance and for peace and stability in this region", he said.

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But both sides worked to hammer out a deal to minimise the impact of the lapse on South Korean workers on US military bases, and focus on nuclear talks ahead of a second US-North Korea summit, Seoul officials said.

When asked about the possibility in an interview with CBS last week, Trump said he has "no plans" to withdraw troops from the peninsula and hasn't even discussed the issue. During his election campaign, Trump suggested he could pull back troops from South Korea and Japan unless they took on greater a share of the financial burdens of supporting USA soldiers deployed there.

Last month, a senior South Korean ruling party legislator said negotiations were deadlocked after the United States made a "sudden, unacceptable" demand that Seoul pay more than 1.4 trillion won ($1.2bn) per year. South Korean officials pushed for a three-year deal keeping their annual contribution around $864 million. -North Korea summit due to take place at the end of the month in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Their first summit in Singapore last June resulted in Kim's vague commitment to "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", a term that his propaganda machine previously used when it argued it would only denuclearise after the U.S. withdraws its troops from South Korea.

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 United States and North Korea.

In order to ensure that the Alliance remains ready to "Fight Tonight", defend the Korean Peninsula, and (if necessary) defeat North Korea, South Korea and the United States prioritize the development and deployment of a wide array of military assets.

Services had not been interrupted thanks to reserve funds, but USFK had warned the Korean Employees' Union that it would have to put local staff on unpaid leave beginning in mid-April if a deal wasn't reached.

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