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Seoul and Washington in deep disagreement over defense costs

Staff Writer | January 21, 2019
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha declared that her country and the United States have a 'profound disagreement' in negotiations over the division of the costs of US troops stationed in South Korea.
Kang Kyung-wha
Asia   Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha
According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, the minister discussed the issue by telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

According to the report, both sides agreed to make efforts to reach an agreement quickly that is rational and acceptable to both sides, based on the spirit of the alliance.

Subsequently, Kang held a closed-door meeting with legislators in the National Assembly and then told the press that Seoul seeks a convincing deal for parliament and the public.

In 2018, the allies held 10 rounds of negotiations on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), but did not reach an agreement on the issue.

Dialogues between South Korea and the United States on the distribution of the costs of U.S. soldiers in the Asian nation are stalled because of Washington's opposition to accepting the proposals handled so far.

Last December, the allies reached a final agreement in which Seoul would pay $888 million as part of the financial costs for the permanence of the 28,500 soldiers of the U.S. Armed Forces in South Korea (USFK).

However, South Korean government sources assure that the negotiations were disintegrated by opposition from the U.S. leadership.

U.S. President Donald Trump's position on this issue is that the allies should bear a greater proportion of defense costs.