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S. Korea, U.S. to sign provisional defense cost-sharing deal Sunday

All Headlines 16:06 February 09, 2019

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will sign a preliminary deal Sunday on splitting the costs of their military alliance, Seoul's foreign ministry said Saturday.

A signing ceremony will be held in Seoul at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, led by their top negotiators, Chang Won-sam and Timothy Betts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Before the ceremony, Betts will also meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

The two sides have recently reached an agreement on the thorny issue following 10 rounds of talks last year.

Both sides reportedly agreed to Seoul increasing its contribution to slightly more than 1 trillion won (US$890 million) in 2019. However, the contract would last only one year, leaving a burden for the allies to start negotiating the terms again in the coming months.

The U.S. originally demanded South Korea pay at least $1 billion per year, while Seoul wanted a deal to be valid for three to five years.

Under a 2014 accord, South Korea paid some 960 billion won for the operation of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). It expired at the end of last year.

After the new deal is inked, South Korea will wrap up related administrative procedures. It will officially go into effect following parliamentary approval, which is expected to take place in April.

South Korea has shared the financial burden for USFK since the early 1990s. The funds are used to cover the wages of South Korean workers at USFK bases, construction and logistical support.

This file photo taken on June 26, 2018, shows representatives from South Korea (L) and the United States holding a meeting in Seoul for defense cost-sharing. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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