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Seoul, Washington to start talks on costs for U.S. troops in S. Korea
SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will begin negotiations this year to renew a cost-sharing agreement for American troops stationed in the South, an official said Tuesday.

   About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea under a mutual defense treaty aimed at deterring potential aggression from North Korea. The agreement, last revised in 2008, will expire by the end of this year.

   "The defense cost-sharing agreement for U.S. Forces Korea will expire this year," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said, adding the allies will engage in "intense negotiations" to renew the agreement.

   Cho did not say exactly when the negotiations would start, but the ministry is preparing to start the talks once the new government of South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye is launched.

   The planned talks for sharing costs for the American military presence in South Korea, as well as Seoul's pursuit of uranium enrichment and reprocessing for civilian purposes, are cited as key bilateral issues facing Seoul's new government.

   The U.S. has maintained a military presence in South Korea since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, leaving the two Koreas technically still at war.