S. Korea, U.S. to Hold Military Cost-Sharing Talks Next Week
(Source: Yonhap News Agency; issued April 5, 2018)
SEOUL --- Officials of South Korea and the United States will hold their second round of talks next week to renew their cost-sharing agreement for about 28,500 American troops stationed here, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

The talks will be held on South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju next Wednesday and Thursday, according to the ministry. This follows their first meeting held last month on Hawaii.

South Korea has shared U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) upkeep costs since 1991 under the Special Measures Agreement (SMA). Seoul's contribution has increased to around 960 billion won ($887.5 million) this year from 150 billion won in 1991.

The current arrangement, signed in 2014, is set to expire on Dec. 31. The U.S. is currently demanding Seoul shoulder more of the financial burden.

The talks will be led by Chang Won-sam, a career diplomat who was appointed in mid-November to head the South Korean negotiation team, and Timothy Betts, deputy assistant secretary for plans, programs and operations at the U.S. State Department.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters that South Korea has been a "very exemplary" ally for the U.S. in sharing the military cost.

Kang added that the government will strive to draw a reasonable and transparent agreement that its people and the National Assembly could agree with.

Last month, the ministry ordered its incumbent ambassador to Britain to return home, apparently to hold him responsible for allegedly not reporting some parts of the previous agreement to lawmakers. He was the chief negotiator for the 2014 cost-sharing agreement subject to parliamentary approval.

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