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S. Korea vows efforts for prompt signing of defense cost deal with U.S.

All News 11:57 February 24, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will redouble efforts to reach a defense cost-sharing agreement with the United States, the defense ministry said Monday, after Washington warned that South Korean workers at American military bases could be furloughed unless a deal is reached in time.

The Pentagon said Sunday it will be necessary to furlough most South Koreans at the U.S. bases here on April 1 if an agreement is not reached over how much Seoul should pay for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). Last year's one-year deal expired on Dec. 31.

"We cannot go into details regarding the defense cost-sharing deal as the negotiations are ongoing, but I can tell you that we will strengthen our efforts to reach an agreement at an early date to minimize the impact from the absence of a pact," deputy ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-sik said in a regular press briefing.

The apparent warning from the U.S. came just one day before Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo was set to hold talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Washington and discuss a range of security issues, including the defense cost-sharing deal.

Since September, the two countries have held six rounds of negotiations. But they have yet to reach a deal amid Washington's demand for a sharp increase in Seoul's financial contribution to USFK operations.


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