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S. Korea, U.S. end 2nd day of defense cost-sharing talks

08:14 January 16, 2020

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States ended their second day of talks Wednesday on sharing the cost of the upkeep of some 28,500 American troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula.

Details of the outcome were not immediately available as both sides kept the negotiations tightly under wraps, but no additional meetings were scheduled for the current round.

The two teams, led by Jeong Eun-bo on the South Korean side and James DeHart on the U.S. side, held their sixth round of negotiations in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday to renew the countries' Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

Under last year's SMA, which expired at the end of December, Seoul was required to pay some US$870 million.

Washington has demanded a significant increase in Seoul's financial contributions, along with additional cost categories, including payments for rotational troop deployments to the peninsula.

South Korea has maintained that the negotiations should proceed within the framework of the previous SMA.

Arriving in Washington on Monday, Jeong told reporters that the two sides are narrowing their differences but still remain apart on how to reach a "comprehensive" deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump has branded South Korea a rich country that should pay more for its defense. In a media interview over the weekend, he claimed, "They're going to pay us a lot more."

This photo, provided by South Korea's foreign ministry, shows Jeong Eun-bo (R), Seoul's chief negotiator, shaking hands with his U.S. counterpart, James DeHart, during their sixth round of talks in Washington on Jan. 14, 2020. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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