U.S., ROK agree 'in principle' on sharing troop cost: State Department
CGTN
00:27

The U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have reached an agreement “in principle” on sharing the cost of stationing the U.S. troops in the Asian country, the State Department said on Monday.

“The U.S. and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement in principle on a new Special Measures Agreement,” a spokeswoman said, “Both sides are committed to working out remaining technical issues as quickly as possible.”

CNN quoted a State Department official as saying that under the revised agreement, the ROK would boost its financial contribution to nearly one billion U.S. dollars.

The ROK peace activists hold placards reading "Stop! Max Thunder," during a rally denouncing ROK-U.S. joint military drills, in front of the U.S. embassy in Seoul, May 16, 2018. /VCG Photo

The ROK peace activists hold placards reading "Stop! Max Thunder," during a rally denouncing ROK-U.S. joint military drills, in front of the U.S. embassy in Seoul, May 16, 2018. /VCG Photo

The 2014 deal that expired last year required Seoul to pay about 960 billion won (848 million U.S. dollars) a year for keeping some 28,500 U.S. troops in the ROK. The allies had appeared unable to strike an accord to renew the deal despite 10 rounds of talks since March.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that the ROK, where the U.S. has stationed soldiers since the 1950-53 Korean War, should bear more of the cost.

The ROK's news agency Yonhap earlier quoted a diplomatic source in Seoul as saying that Washington appeared set to accept the ROK's request to contribute under 1 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and that the agreement would run for a year as opposed to a previous five-year deal.

Yonhap said the two sides were expected to seal the deal as early this week. Its source attributed the compromise to the allies' efforts to focus on diplomacy with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) ahead of a second U.S.-DPRK summit planned on February 27-28 in Vietnam.

ROK's officials have said Seoul had sought to limit its share to one trillion won (891 million U.S. dollars) and make the agreement valid for at least three years.

The U.S. and the ROK hold‍ a joint military exercise, March 20, 2018. /VCG Photo

The U.S. and the ROK hold‍ a joint military exercise, March 20, 2018. /VCG Photo

A senior legislator in the ROK's ruling party said last month that negotiations were deadlocked after the U.S. made a “sudden, unacceptable” demand that the ROK pay more than 1.4 trillion won (1.25 billion U.S. dollars) per year.

About 70 percent of Seoul's contribution covers the salaries of some 8,700 ROK's employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the U.S. military.

The U.S. military warned Korean workers on its bases they might be put on leave from mid-April if no deal was reached.

The two countries have already nailed down the schedule and scope of their joint exercises which is said to be held in the first half of this year, according to Seoul's defense sources.

The date of announcement is still under discussion, probably be made after the meeting between the U.S. envoy and his DPRK counterpart on this month's planned summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, said the officials, according to Yonhap.

Source(s): Reuters