South Korea and the US are expected to launch defense cost-sharing talks in mid-September, according to a Foreign Ministry official, amid a growing concern here over US President Donald Trump’s push for the Asian ally’s substantial hike in contribution.
The negotiation for the Special Measures Agreement is for deciding South Korea’s share of the cost for the upkeep of the 28,500 US troops.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump have lunch with US and South Korean tropps at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (AP)
“I predict that SMA talks could open in mid-September at the earliest, after the Chuseok holiday,” the official told reporters. Chuseok is the nation’s holiday, which falls on Sept. 13 this year.
In March, the two countries signed a deal which only valid for this year. Under the contract, Seoul agreed to pay 1.04 trillion won ($861.4 million), an increase of 8.2 percent from the previous year.
On Aug. 20, Timothy Betts, the top US negotiator for defense cost-sharing talks, proposed a launching date of the talks to his South Korean counterpart Chang Won-sam.
Discussion is underway between the two countries’ authorities to set up their negotiation schedule based on the proposal.
Seoul is expected to pick a new chief negotiator for the new round of deal, 11th SMA, while Washington is believed to have named a successor to Betts.
Trump repeatedly said rich nations like Korea should shoulder more burden of the cost. According to local reports, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton demanded South Korea and Japan to eventually increase their share up to fivefold.
Seoul’s foreign ministry has been stressing that it will conduct the negotiations in a “reasonable and fair” way.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org