SEOUL, South Korea and the United States are expected to strike a deal this week on splitting the cost for the stationing of American troops here as the allies consider the need to work closely together to denuclearize North Korea, a diplomatic source said Sunday.
The U.S. will likely accept South Korea’s request for a contribution of less than US$1 billion (1.1 trillion won) in 2019.
Seoul plans to sign a one-year contract as Washington demands, according to the source.
Last year, South Korea paid around 960 billion won for the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) under a five-year deal signed in 2014.
Senior diplomats of the two sides had ten rounds of face-to-face talks on the Special Measures Agreement last year but failed to reach a compromise.
The Trump administration has called for a sharp rise in Seoul’s share. It initially asked Seoul to pay up to $1.2 billion a year, saying the minimum contribution should be $1 billion.
South Korea, however, has maintained that the scale of its contribution should not exceed 1 trillion won ($893 million), a de-facto “psychological Maginot Line” for its people.
It wanted the contract term to be at least three years to avoid frequent negotiations on money.
“The U.S. has made a concession on the total amount (of South Korea’s contribution) and the two nations have narrowed differences, because they considered the importance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” the source said.
In particular, the two sides hope to focus efforts on dealing with the North Korea issue in advance of a second North Korea-U.S. summit to be held late this month, the source added.
Source: Yonhap news Agency