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S. Korea, U.S. continue defense cost-sharing talks for 2nd day

05:38 December 05, 2019

By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States on Wednesday continued negotiations on sharing the costs for the upkeep of American troops in the South, with the two sides apart on how much of the burden Seoul will shoulder.

Jeong Eun-bo, Seoul's chief negotiator, met with his American counterpart, James DeHart, for the second day of talks at an undisclosed venue in Washington. The fourth round of negotiations kicked off at the State Department on Tuesday.

Details of the negotiations have been kept under wraps amid reports that the U.S. seeks a fivefold increase in South Korea's contribution to US$5 billion next year.

The previous round of negotiations in Seoul last month was cut short after South Korea apparently balked at the demand.

The current one-year cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement, expires at the end of the year and requires South Korea to pay $870 million for Korean civilians hired by U.S. Forces Korea, the construction of military facilities and other forms of support.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has reportedly asked that under the new deal South Korea also cover expenditures related to supporting American troops' families and conducting combined military exercises.

Seoul has said its goal is to negotiate within the framework of the current SMA.

Jeong Eun-bo (L), Seoul's chief negotiator, shakes hands with his American counterpart, James DeHart, ahead of the fourth round of Special Measures Agreement negotiations in Washington on Dec. 3, 2019. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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