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South Korea to pay more for U.S. military presence

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Staff Writer | February 11, 2019
US army in in South Korea
Asia   The presence of the U.S. Armed Forces in South Korea

South Korea signed on Sunday an agreement with the United States in which it agrees to increase by 8.2 percent the budget for maintaining U.S. military personnel in the Asian country.

The presence of the U.S. Armed Forces in South Korea (USFK) will cost Seoul $890 million, while previously paid $854 million, reveals the news agency Yonhap.

For several months, the dialogues on the distribution of the financial burden for the sustenance of the 28,500 soldiers of the USFK were paralyzed by lack of consensus between the authorities of the two countries, but on Sunday they reached an agreement.

The signing is a preliminary act, since the ratification of the pact by the South Korean parliament is required, although on the US side this step is not necessary for its entry into force.

The South Korean Foreing Minister, Kang Kyung-wha, met with Timothy Bettts, the head of the US delegation, minutes before stamping her signature.

Chang and Betts held 10 rounds of face-to-face talks last year without reaching a pact on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that solves U.S. soldiers on the Korean peninsula.

The previous treaty on this matter was signed in 2014 and expired at the end of 2018, i.e. it lasted for four years; however, the one initialled today will only be valid for one year.

The South Korean authorities wanted a longer term, but the White House ruled out that possibility and said they would review the division of defense costs in a comprehensive manner. South Korea has shared the financial burden of the USFKs since the early 1990s.

Last June, U.S. President Donald Trump said ending joint military exercises with Seoul would save his country 'a lot of money', but then Washington announced it would keep its troops in the Asian nation.

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