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Korea, U.S. fail to agree on troop cost-sharing

Dec 15,2018
Korea and the United States failed to strike an agreement on how much Seoul will pay to station American troops on the peninsula, a government official here said Friday. Senior diplomats from the allies held three-day talks in Seoul to set the amount of Seoul’s financial contributions for the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).

It marked the 10th round of bargaining, as the current five-year accord expires at the end of this month.

The two sides remain divided over the total amount of Seoul’s financial contributions, a contract period and some other contentious issues, according to the official. “Again, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity. “The two sides will continue consultations through diplomatic channels.” He ruled out the possibility of another round of formal talks within this month.

In case no deal is reached in the coming two weeks, he agreed, it’s expected to cause a problem when the USFK has to pay wages for Korean civilian workers. About a third of Seoul’s payment is used for the wages of around 8,000 workers.

The USFK has reportedly warned that they may be forced to go on unpaid leave, apparently putting pressure on Korean negotiators.

In the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) talks, the Trump administration has called for Seoul to sharply increase its yearly contribution from the current 960 billion won ($847.1 million).