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Mon Sep 16, 2019, 12:54 AM

Seoul set for tough talks on defense costs

Seoul set for tough talks on defense costs

BY LEE SUNG-EUN Joongang Daily Sep 16

...Trump has recently been ramping up pressure on South Korea to pay up, with the two countries expected to start talks for their next bilateral Special Measures Agreement (SMA) as early as late this month. Trumpís remarks are in line with Washingtonís forecast that it will demand a steep increase in Seoulís share in the cost of stationing U.S. troops here.

Under the current one-year bilateral defense cost-sharing deal, Seoul agreed to pay nearly 1.04 trillion won this year, which amounted to some $920 million at the time of the singing in March. This was 8.2 percent more than what Seoul spent last year for the stationing of 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea. South Koreaís contribution currently covers mostly the cost of South Korean personnel, logistics and construction.

In the forthcoming rounds, some local government sources say Washington may demand Seoul to also cover the cost of the deployment of strategic assets, joint military exercises and even expenses for its initiative to defend the Strait of Hormuz.

Since 1991, the two countries have conducted routine negotiations to decide what Seoulís financial contribution should be. The current agreement, the 10th of its kind, is set to expire at the end of this year.


Other South Korean media have reported that, in fact, the US had been asking for a 500 percent increase in the South Korean contribution to the US military costs in South Korea. Along with the current notice of withdrawal from the GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) with Japan and other disputes between the two US allies, and North Korea denuclearization and sanctions issues, the upcoming summit meeting between Trump and South Korean President Moon may hit a few bumps. Moon is expected to arrive in the US (Sep 22) for the UN General Assembly meeting for a three day stay.

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