S. Korea Braces for Military Cost-Sharing Talks with U.S.
(Source: Yonhap News Agency; issued March 06, 2018)
SEOUL --- South Korea has "diverse" scenarios in mind for the upcoming negotiation with the United States on military cost-sharing for the hosting of some 28,500 American troops, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Officials of South Korea and the U.S. will have their first round of meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii from Wednesday to Friday to discuss a new military cost-sharing agreement.

South Korea has shared the upkeep costs of U.S. Forces Korea since 1991. Its contribution has increased to around 960 billion won (US$887.5 million) this year. The current arrangement, signed in 2014, is set to expire on Dec. 31.

"We have prepared our negotiation options in consideration of diverse scenarios that could be proposed by the U.S.," foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told reporters during a regular press briefing.

"The government will do its best to produce an agreement that will forge an environment for stable stationing of U.S. troops here, contribute to strengthening the joint defense capabilities and that our parliament and people can see as acceptable, reasonable and mutually beneficial," he added.

He made the remarks in response to a question as to whether the burden-sharing will also cover the cost stemming from deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system here.

Asked if and when Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is planning to visit the U.S. to discuss North Korea issues, the spokesman said that nothing has been decided yet. He still noted that the visit will be determined separately from a planned trip by President Moon Jae-in's special envoys to the U.S. to explain the outcome of their two-day visit to North Korea.

The envoys met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and delivered a personal letter from Moon. They are to return to the South late Tuesday afternoon.

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