Washington, Seoul agree on sharing of USFK costs

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Washington, Seoul agree on sharing of USFK costs

WASHINGTON - Seoul and Washington have reached an agreement “in principle” on sharing the costs of stationing the U.S. forces in South Korea (USFK), the State Department said Monday.

The two sides had appeared to be at an impasse over how to renew their Special Measures Agreement, which governs each side’s contributions to the upkeep of the 28,500 USFK.

The latest version expired at the end of December as negotiations continued over U.S. calls for a sharp increase in South Korea’s contribution from some 960 billion won ($858 million) last year, to up to $1.2 billion.

“The United States and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement in principle on a new Special Measures Agreement,” a State Department spokesperson told Yonhap, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea. “Both sides are committed to working out remaining technical issues as quickly as possible.”

A diplomatic source in Seoul said earlier that Washington appears set to accept South Korea’s request to contribute under $1 billion in 2019. According to Washington’s wishes, that would be a one-year contract, as opposed to the previous five-year deal.

The source attributed the compromise to the two countries’ efforts to focus on their diplomacy with North Korea ahead of the second U.S.-North Korea summit planned for later this month.

“The United States appreciates the considerable resources the ROK provides to support the Alliance, including its contribution through the Special Measures Agreement towards the cost of maintaining the presence of the USFK,” the spokesperson said.

“We stand by our ROK ally, including through shared obligations under our Mutual Defense Treaty,” the official added. The U.S. commitment to the security of the ROK and its people remains ironclad.”

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