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S.Korea, U.S. sign cost-sharing deal for U.S. forces in S.Korea

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:03, February 10, 2019

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the United States on Sunday signed a deal to share defense costs for U.S. forces stationed in South Korea, according to local media reports.

The signing ceremony was held at the South Korean foreign ministry's headquarters in Seoul, with Chang Won-sam and Timothy Betts, top negotiators from both sides, in attendance.

Under the revised Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that stipulates a cost-sharing between Seoul and Washington for the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), South Korea will pay 1.04 trillion won (925 million U.S. dollars) this year.

It was an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year. South Korea paid 960 billion won (854 million U.S. dollars) in 2018 for the USFK stationing.

Washington had reportedly demanded Seoul make a financial contribution of at least 1 billion U.S. dollars.

Instead of the U.S. concession in the amount, the revised SMA will be effective for only one year. The previous deals were signed for the five-year commitment. The latest SMA expired at the end of last year.

Because of the one-year deal, the two allies were forecast to launch negotiations for a new SMA in the second half of this year.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed here as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with armistice. The South Korean contribution is used to pay wages for South Korean civilian workers who are employed by the USFK, construction costs for U.S. bases and logistics support expenses.

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