South Korea signs deal to pay more for United States troops

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig

South Korea signs deal to pay more for US troops

Officials signed a short-term agreement yesterday to boost South Korea's contribution towards the upkeep of United States troops on the peninsula, after a previous deal lapsed amid US President Donald Trump's call for the South to pay more. South Korea will pay US$890 million for the operation of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), up from 960 billion won in 2018. America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have boosted military spending by $100 billion after similar demands from Trump. But the two sides also agreed to a one-year agreement instead of the usual five-year timeframe, so negotiators will have to return to the table soon.

Upon review from the presidential office and the Legislation Ministry, the tentative pact is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly for approval sometime around April, before it can take effect.

Trump announced last week that he will sit down with Kim for a second summit in Vietnam in late February.

"It has been a very long process, but ultimately a very successful process", South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said of negotiations with the Americans.

"I think the response so far has been quite positive". "We will have to deal with them, but I think at this point we were able to close the gap on the total amount".

Most US troops were withdrawn in 1949 but they returned the next year to fight alongside South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean war.

President Moon Jae-in also has been credited with playing a mediator role in persuading North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to engage in diplomacy aimed at ridding his country of nuclear weapons.

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"The United States government realizes that Korea does a lot for our alliance and peace and stability in the region", chief US negotiator Timothy Betts said Sunday in Seoul. "The SMA is only a small part of that". "We are very pleased our consultations resulted in agreement that will strengthen transparency and deepen our cooperation and the alliance".

South Korea and the United States signed a provisional agreement Sunday on the sharing of costs to maintain U.S. troops here, with South Korea raising its share by 8.2 percent. 70 percent of South Korea's support covers the salaries of 8.700 South Koreans who provide administrative and technical services for the 28,500 American troops stationed in their country.

"Maybe someday", he said in a CBS News interview.

President Trump stated last week that he has no short-term plans to withdraw US troops from South Korea but left the possibility open for the future.

Brinkmanship is common in the cost-sharing talks, which have taken place since 1991, but the USA -led effort to persuade North Korea to give up its weapons raised the stakes. "But, you know, it's very expensive to keep troops there".

North Korea hates the drills, which it considers a rehearsal for an invasion. The big USA military presence in South Korea is a symbol of the countries' alliance, forged in blood during the war, but also a source of long-running anti-American sentiments. The funds are spent for the construction of United States military facilities, to pay for South Korean civilians working at the military posts and for logistical support.

South Korean officials have said they had sought to limit its burden to 1 trillion won ($889.7m) and make the accord valid for at least three years.

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