South Korea has signed a brand new cope with the United States on how a lot Seoul ought to pay for the US army presence on its soil after a earlier deal lapsed amid President Donald Trump‘s name for Seoul to pay extra.
The brand new deal, signed on Sunday, awaiting parliament approval in Seoul, would enhance South Korea’s contribution from 960 billion received ($850m) received in 2018 to 1.03 trillion received ($890m).
Not like previous agreements, which lasted for 5 years, this one is scheduled to run out in a yr, doubtlessly forcing either side again to the bargaining desk inside months.
“It has been a really lengthy course of, however in the end a really profitable course of,” South Korea’s Overseas Minister Kang Kyung-wha instructed reporters earlier than one other official from the overseas ministry initialled the settlement.
Whereas acknowledging lingering home criticism of the brand new deal and the necessity for parliamentary approval, Kang mentioned the response had “been constructive to date”.
Timothy Betts, US State Division senior adviser for safety negotiations and agreements, met Kang earlier than signing the settlement and instructed reporters the cash represented a small however vital a part of South Korea’s help for the alliance.
“The USA authorities realises that South Korea does quite a bit for our alliance and for peace and stability on this area,” mentioned Betts.
Sharing the invoice
About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea, the place the US has maintained a army presence for the reason that 1950-53 Korean Conflict.
The allies struggled to achieve a breakthrough regardless of 10 rounds of talks since March, amid Trump’s repeated requires a pointy enhance in South Korea’s contribution.
South Korean officers have mentioned they’d sought to restrict its burden to 1 trillion received ($889.7m) and make the accord legitimate for no less than three years.
Final month, a senior South Korean ruling social gathering legislator mentioned negotiations had been deadlocked after the US made a “sudden, unacceptable” demand that Seoul pay greater than 1.four trillion received ($1.2bn) a yr.
However either side labored to hammer out a deal to minimise the impact of the lapse on South Korean employees on US army bases, and deal with nuclear talks forward of a second US-North Korea summit, Seoul officers mentioned.
In his annual State of the Union Handle to Congress on Tuesday, Trump mentioned he would meet North Korean chief Kim Jong Un on February 27-28 in Vietnam, following their unprecedented assembly in June 2018 in Singapore.
After final yr’s summit, Trump introduced a halt to joint army workouts with South Korea, saying they had been costly and paid for largely by the US.
Main joint workouts have been suspended, however some small-scale drills have continued, incomes rebukes from North Korea’s state media in current months.
Seoul contributes round 70 % to cowl the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean staff who present administrative, technical and different providers for the US army.
Late final yr, the US army warned Korean employees on its bases they could be placed on depart from mid-April if no deal was agreed.