New S. Korea-U.S. defense cost sharing pact submitted for parliament approval
SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- A new defense cost sharing pact signed between South Korea and the United States last month was submitted to the parliament here on Friday for approval, the foreign ministry said.
Before the submission, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim signed the renewal of the Special Measure Agreement (SMA), aimed at jointly footing the cost of stationing the 28,500 United States Forces Korea (USFK) troops, last Sunday.
The SMA, signed after months of tough negotiations, was the ninth one between the two allies.
Under the new five-year pact, South Korea will pay 920 billion won (US$855.7 million) this year, which represents a 5.8 percent increase from what it paid last year under the previous SMA. Seoul's contribution will grow every year in accordance with the inflation rate, capped in the contract at 4 percent.
Under the renewed agreement, the U.S. also agreed to raise transparency in its spending of the defense fund amid some local criticism of alleged misuse.
The Seoul-Washington defense treaty had initially put the burden of financing U.S. defense activities solely on the U.S. side. The allies signed their first SMA in 1991, and the deal has since been renewed intermittently.
The USFK forces are stationed in South Korea mainly as a deterrent against North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.