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S. Korea, U.S. agree to seek early conclusion of defense cost-sharing talks

All News 14:10 February 05, 2021

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States agreed to pursue an early conclusion of their defense cost-sharing talks to help strengthen their alliance and defense posture during their video talks Friday, the foreign ministry said.

Seoul's top negotiator, Jeong Eun-bo, and his U.S. counterpart, Donna Welton, led their first such meeting since last month's launch of the Joe Biden administration to advance their negotiations to determine Seoul's share of the cost for stationing the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).

"Based on the spirit of the alliance, the two sides held earnest discussions to address differences that have continued and work out a mutually acceptable agreement," the ministry said in a press release.

"The two sides also agreed to work together to contribute to strengthening the South Korea-U.S. alliance as a linchpin of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and the combined defense posture by concluding the defense cost-sharing negotiations as early as possible," it added.

The two sides also agreed to hold the next round of talks in the near future and plan to discuss details for the future talks through diplomatic channels, the ministry said.

Since September 2019, the two sides have engaged in grueling negotiations to reach the defense cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

The last one-year agreement, which called for Seoul to pay about US$870 million, already expired at the end of 2019.

Jeong Eun-bo, South Korea's top negotiator in defense cost-sharing talks with the United States, holds video talks with his U.S. counterpart, Donna Welton, at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Feb. 5, 2021, in this photo provided by the ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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