Written by Reuters
10 Feb, 2019 | 4:48 pm
REUTERS – South Korean officials signed a short-term agreement on Sunday that would boost the amount Seoul contributes toward the upkeep of U.S. troops on the peninsula after a previous deal lapsed amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for more money.
The new deal must still be approved by South Korea’s parliament, but it would boost South Korea’s contribution to 1.03 trillion won ($890 million) from 960 billion won in 2018. Unlike past agreements, which lasted for five years, this deal is scheduled to expire in one year, potentially forcing both sides back to the bargaining table within months.
“I think at this point, we will be able to close the gap on the total amount of the number and that I think very much to the goodwill and the trust that two sides have built over the past years,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kyung-wha said before another official from the foreign ministry initialed the agreement.
While acknowledging lingering domestic criticism of the new deal and the need for parliamentary approval, Kang said the response has “been positive so far.”
U.S. State Department senior advisor for security negotiations and agreements Timothy Betts met with Kang before signing the agreement on behalf of the United States and told Kang that the money represents a small but important part of South Korea’s support for the alliance.
“The United States government realizes that South Korea does a lot for our alliance and for peace and stability in this region,” he said.
Roughly 28,500 U.S. forces are stationed in South Korea, where Washington has maintained its military presence since the 1950-53 Korean War. The allies had struggled to reach a breakthrough despite 10 rounds of talks since March, amid Trump’s repeated calls for a sharp increase in South Korea’s share. South Korean officials have said they had sought to limit its burden to $1 trillion won and make the accord valid for at least three years.
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