The top US negotiator in defense cost-sharing talks with South Korea arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a fresh round of negotiations this week over the sharing of the cost for the upkeep of American troops here, with the two sides still being far apart.
Upon arrival at Incheon International Airport earlier in the day, James DeHart of the US State Department did not answer reporters' questions, such as his prospect of progress in the Special Measures Agreement that stipulates the allies' sharing of the cost for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong US Forces Korea.
He is set to meet with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Eun-bo, for the fifth round of negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday.
They last met in Washington early this month.
Though the two sides have been striving to conclude the deal by the end of this year when the current one-year accord expires, the talks could miss that as they still remain far apart over the amount of Seoul's financial contributions and what should be covered by a new SMA.
Washington has reportedly demanded a drastic increase in Seoul's payments to $5 billion next year to cover expenses related to the allies' combined military exercises and support for USFK troops' families.
Under this year's deal, struck in February, Seoul agreed to pay around $870 million, up 8.2 percent from the previous year. (Yonhap)