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Assembly panel advances ratification bill for USFK cost-sharing deal

All News 17:23 August 23, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 23 (Yonhap) -- The parliamentary committee on foreign affairs on Monday passed a ratification motion for a new South Korea-U.S. cost-sharing deal for the U.S. troop presence here.

The two countries reached the so-called Special Measures Agreement in March after 1 1/2 years of tough negotiations.

Under the new arrangement, effective until 2025, Seoul will pay 1.183 trillion won (US$1.009 billion) this year, up 13.9 percent from last year, for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).

The National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee convenes a general session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 23, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea's payment will also be adjusted reflecting the increase rate of the national defense budget over the next four years.

Members of the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition People Power Party in the committee supported the bill. Two others -- a minor opposition lawmaker and an independent -- abstained, saying the increase rate is unreasonable.

The panel attached its opinion to the bill, expressing regret about the increased burden of South Korea and calling for improvement in future negotiations.

The bill is subject to a vote at the National Assembly's plenary session.

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