South Korea, US sign 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

The new deal must still be approved by South Korea's parliament, but it would boost this year's contribution to about 1.04 trillion won (US$924 million), Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Negotiators held 10 rounds of talks a year ago but remained deadlocked over President Donald Trump's demand that the South pay significantly more.

South Korea has signed a new deal with the United States on how much Seoul should pay for the USA military presence on its soil after a previous deal lapsed amid President Donald Trump's call for Seoul to pay more.

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 U.S. government realizes that Korea does a lot for the alliance and for peace and stability of this region", Betts said.

The president had been harping about South Korea not paying its fair share since the 2016 campaign, making this new agreement a clear victory for his policy of getting other nations to pay more for USA force protection.

"It has been a very long process, but ultimately a very successful process", South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said at a meeting before another official from the foreign ministry signed the agreement.

The new arrangement, pending ratification by the South Korean parliament in April, would increase Seoul's share of the cost by a little over 8 percent to $924 million in US dollars.

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.

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. -North Korea summit due to take place at the end of the month in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump has complained that maintaining troops in South Korea is too expensive and said in the past that he would like to bring them home.

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.

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.

South Korea will expand its contribution in goods or services, instead of money, for construction and logistical support.

The United States agreed there will be no change in US troop levels in South Korea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Late past year, the U.S. military had warned South Korean workers on its bases they might be put on leave from mid-April if no deal was agreed. US Reps. Grace Meng and Norma Torres wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, saying the one-year deal did not sufficiently reflect the importance of the US alliance with South Korea.



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