US, South Korea reach new cost-sharing agreement on troops
New York City, US, Mar 7 (efe-epa).- The United States and South Korea have reached a cost-sharing agreement for US troops stationed in the Asian country, the US State Department announced Sunday, resolving a years-long dispute on the matter.
The new pact includes an increase in South Korea’s contribution to covering the cost of US troops and reaffirms the military alliance between the two countries “as the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for Northeast Asia, a free and open Indo-Pacific, and across the world,” the State Department’s Political-Military Affairs office said on Twitter.
“Negotiating teams will now pursue the final steps needed to conclude the Special Measures Agreement for signature and entry into force that will strengthen our Alliance and our shared defense,” it added.
The Washington-Seoul agreement comes after the US struck a similar deal with Japan last month, as part of an attempt by US President Joe Biden’s administration to strengthen relations with some of its major allies.
Negotiations between South Korea and the US reached a stumbling block in 2019 after the administration of then US president Donald Trump demanded a significant increase in the Asian country’s contribution and rejected an initial agreement.
The new agreement will be valid through 2025 and includes a “meaningful increase” in Seoul’s contributions, although the figures are unknown, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Traditionally, since the start of such agreements in 1991, South Korea has financed between 30 and 50 percent of the cost of US military presence.
The US has a permanent force of around 28,500 troops in South Korea to defend its ally against North Korean aggression in an arrangement dating back to the end of the Korean War (1950-53), which ended with an armistice but no definitive peace treaty. EFE-EPA