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S. Korea, U.S. to reopen defense cost-sharing talks next week

English.news.cn   2014-01-03 11:06:35            

SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the United States will resume the 10th round of senior-level talks over how to share costs for the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed here, after the prior nine rounds of talks failed to narrow differences between the two sides, local media reported Friday.

The new round of negotiations for the five-year Special Measures Agreement (SMA) will be started on Jan. 9 in Seoul and possibly last for four days, in a last-minute effort to make a final deal.

The two allies will decide how much South Korea will pay for the presence of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) after their SMA expired earlier this week.

Seoul has reportedly offered to keep its payment share at 869.5 billion won (820 million U.S. dollars), but Washington has demanded a hike to around 1 trillion won considering what it called the increasing security threats from the Democratic People' s Republic of Korea.

"We have yet to bridge our gaps. But we are pressed to wrap up the negotiations soon, given the many (rounds of) talks so far as well as the (need to uphold) the South Korea-U.S. alliance," Yonhap news agency quoted a Seoul government official as saying on condition of anonymity.

The first negotiation of this kind was held in July last year to revise the five-year SMA, while the latest round of talk collapsed at the end of 2013.

The United States faced growing financial burden to station its 28,500-strong forces in South Korea as Washington was hit hard by the partial government shutdown amid lackluster economic growth.

U.S. President Barack Obama has sought a rebalancing towards the Asia-Pacific, but Washington asked its Asian allies such as South Korea and Japan to contribute more to its policy shift.

South Korea and the United States singed their first SMA in 1991. The latest deal was reached in 2008, with Seoul agreeing to pay 4.07 trillion won for the next five years through 2013.

Editor: Shen Qing
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