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S. Korea, U.S. set for defense cost talks next week

All Headlines 15:04 October 12, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States plan to hold another round of talks next week on sharing the cost of American troops here amid reports that the Trump administration is demanding a 50-percent hike in Seoul's burden.

The two-day session will open on Tuesday in Seoul, the eighth of its kind.

"If necessary, the period can be extended," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

At issue is Washington's call for a sharp increase in Seoul's contribution.

During a parliamentary audit of the foreign ministry's affairs earlier this week, Rep. Chung Jin-seok of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said the U.S. has pressed South Korea to raise its share to around 1.5 trillion won (US$1.3 billion) per year from the current 960 billion won.

The U.S. wants South Korea to cover spending for the regular or emergency deployment of so-called strategic assets to Korea and other operations, he said.

The assets include advanced U.S. weapon systems like stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and nuclear subs.

South Korea is opposed to such a significant increase, although it agrees with the importance of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea for its national defense.

Foreign ministry officials said they are striving for a deal on the "appropriate amount" for Seoul's financial contribution.

Previous negotiations on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) were held in Honolulu, Jeju, Washington D.C., Seoul and Seattle earlier this year.


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