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THAAD-related costs may be covered using Seoul's share of defense costs with U.S.: ministry

All Headlines 22:15 April 13, 2018

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry said Friday that the cost of operating a U.S. missile defense system installed in the South may be covered using part of Seoul's new share of upkeep costs for U.S. forces stationed here.

The U.S. could demand South Korea shoulder some costs needed to run and keep the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as the allies are in discussion to renew their five-year deal on defense cost-sharing.

"If the U.S. side hopes to use Seoul's share of the U.S. forces upkeep costs to cover THAAD's operation, it may be possible to use it within the total amount of the South's share in accordance with sectoral needs and regulations," the ministry said in a statement.

It could potentially spark a row as it marks a sharp difference from the government's stance that South Korea will not bear any of the costs associated with THAAD.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last year that it would be "appropriate" if Seoul paid US$1 billion for THAAD. Seoul insists that under a bilateral agreement, Washington is responsible for the installation, operation and maintenance of THAAD while it provides the land to host it.

The allies deployed the THAAD system last year in the southeastern county of Seongju in South Korea to counter threats from North Korea.

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

About 28,500 American troops are stationed here.

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