By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, March 4 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling for concluding a "mutually agreeable, multi-year" defense cost-sharing deal with South Korea as negotiations between the two countries remain stalled.
The resolution was introduced by Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) in January and amended by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the committee, to highlight the ongoing negotiations on sharing the cost of keeping 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea.
In particular, the resolution recognizes the 9,000 South Korean workers on U.S. bases who could be furloughed in April if the two countries fail to reach a deal.
"The alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States, our shared national security interests, the 9,000 South Korean civilians working to support the joint mission of United States Forces Korea and the 28,500 United States military service members currently stationed in South Korea, are best served by the conclusion of mutually agreeable, multi-year Special Measures Agreements," the text reads.
It goes further to say that the U.S. House of Representatives "calls for the strengthening and broadening of diplomatic, economic and security ties between the United States and the Republic of Korea, including through the conclusion of mutually agreeable multi-year Special Measures Agreements."
At a full committee markup of this and other resolutions, Engel called for a new Special Measures Agreement that reflects the two countries' close relationship.
"At a time when we face an increasingly aggressive China, a dangerously unhinged North Korea and a host of other challenges, including the coronavirus outbreak, it is imperative that we stay in lockstep with our partners in the region," he said.
"The Trump administration started out by asking our allies to pay 400 percent more than they did before," he continued. "While it is important for our partners to shoulder more of the burden over time, it is important that the final agreement reflects our close partnership with the Republic of Korea and advances our shared goal of preserving security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific."
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