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S. Korea, U.S. to launch defense cost-sharing talks this week

Defense 15:58 September 23, 2019

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will kick off fresh negotiations this week on sharing the cost for the upkeep of American troops here, the foreign ministry said Monday.

The first round of the 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) will take place in Seoul on Tuesday and Wednesday, the ministry said in a release.

Chang Won-sam, who led the previous round of negotiations last year, will represent South Korea until his successor is picked, while James DeHart of the U.S. State Department will lead the U.S. delegation. the ministry said.

The allies have been bracing for what will be another tug of war aimed at determining how much Seoul should shoulder the cost of keeping 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) stationed in the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump has apparently been raising pressure on Seoul to jack up its financial contribution to the USFK, particularly ahead of his full-fledged reelection campaign.

The SMA talks are likely to be a key agenda item for Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in when they meet for talks on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday (U.S. time).

Under this year's SMA, struck in February and due to expire on Dec. 31, South Korea agreed to pay 1.04 trillion won (US$871 million), an increase of 8.2 percent from the previous year.

S. Korea, U.S. to launch defense cost-sharing talks this week - 1


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