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(LEAD) Trump says S. Korea agreed to pay more for defense cost: report

All News 11:52 April 30, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS para 4-5)

SEOUL, April 30 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said South Korea has agreed to pay more for the stationing of American troops in the country, according to a news report.

"We can make a deal. They want to make a deal," Trump was quoted as saying in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday (U.S. time), referring to the negotiations to determine how to divide the cost for the upkeep of about 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

"They've agreed to pay a lot of money. They're paying a lot more money than they did when I got here," he said.

South Korea's presidential office declined to comment, saying, "The negotiation is still ongoing."

"We have nothing to announce yet in regard to the defense cost-sharing deal," a Cheong Wa Dae official said Thursday in a phone call with Yonhap News Agency.

Trump said last week that he rejected South Korea's offer because he felt the Asian ally should pay more. An earlier news report said South Korea suggested a 13 percent increase from the 2019 share of US$870 million for the presence of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea.

More than 4,000 South Korean employees of U.S. Forces Korea have been placed on unpaid leave since April 1 due to the absence of a new defense cost-sharing deal, known as the Special Measures Agreement, to cover their salaries.

The previous SMA, under which Seoul agreed on an 8.2 percent increase, expired at the end of 2019.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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