US, South Korea fail to reach deal on military cost-sharing
The United States and South Korea have failed to reach a new agreement on sharing the cost of maintaining a US military presence in the country following multiple rounds of negotiations.
American and South Korean officials made the announcement on Friday, after holding three-day talks in Seoul to hammer out an accord to replace a 2014 deal due to expire this year.
Senior officials from both sides said they were unable to agree on a final arrangement despite 10 rounds of negotiations since March after the administration of US President Donald Trump repeated demands of a sharp increase in Seoul’s defense contributions for maintaining some 28,500 US troops on the peninsula.
Washington has demanded that its ally increase its contribution to as much as double the current amount of $850 million, or more than $1 billion per year, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
“We’ve come to agreement on almost all elements but could not make it final because of differences on the total scale of the deal,” a senior South Korean official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The US Forces Korea (USFK) said in a statement that it was seeking a “swift conclusion” to the negotiations “to mitigate a possible lapse in contributions” from South Korea.
“Due to the ongoing consultative talks between US and Republic of Korea (ROK) delegations, we are unable to speculate on potential outcomes,” the statement added.
Reports said about 70 percent of South Korea’s contribution covered the salaries of some 8,700 employees who provide technical and other assistance to the US military.