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S. Korea, U.S. to hold talks on sharing defense costs

2018/07/12 11:30

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SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Thursday its negotiators will meet with U.S. officials next week in a bid to narrow differences over the sharing of the cost of maintaining American troops on the peninsula.

The fifth session of the 10th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) is to take place in Seattle on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Key issues include Washington's call for Seoul to foot the bill, at least partially, for the deployment of such U.S. strategic assets as aircraft carriers and long-range bombers to Korea in case such deployments are resumed.

The allies have suspended major combined military drills amid dialogue with North Korea and the U.S. has refrained from sending high-profile defense assets to Korea.

If denuclearization talks falter and the North shifts back to provocation, the U.S. is expected to dispatch them again in a costly maneuver.

The ministry said South Korea's delegation will have "in-depth consultations" with its American counterpart in the upcoming round on the basis of what was discussed in their previous meeting, held in Seoul last week.

Earlier meetings took place in Honolulu in March, on Jeju Island in April and in Washington, D.C. in May.

The existing SMA deal is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

South Korea has shared the financial burden for the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), currently composed of around 28,500 service members, since the early 1990s.

Seoul's share has increased to around 960 billion won ($850 million) in 2018 under the latest five-year accord from 150 billion won in 1991, government data showed.

lcd@yna.co.kr

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