Seoul, Washington Start Defense Cost-Sharing Talks

By Kim Jin-myung | March 09, 2018 11:06

Korea and the U.S. on Thursday started talks in Hawaii about cost-sharing for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea.

Korea paid W950.7 billion last year (US$1=W1,073). But U.S. President Donald Trump has blustered that America's allies are not paying enough. The U.S. reportedly wants Korea to pay about US$1 billion from next year.

Chang Won-sam from the Foreign Ministry led Seoul's delegation to the talks, which also includes officials from the Defense Ministry. The U.S. delegation consisted of Timothy Betts, a deputy assistant at the State Department, and other officials from the departments of State and Defense.

Chang Won-sam, Korea's chief negotiator on defense cost-sharing talks (right), shakes hands with his U.S. counterpart Timothy Betts in Honolulu on Wednesday.

The first round of talks will continue until Saturday, and the two sides are expected to sound each other out through five to six meetings a day.

The last agreement, concluded in 2014, will expire at the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it will recall Hwang Joon-kook, the Korean ambassador to the U.K. who was the chief delegate to the last talks in 2014. He is suspected of having omitted part of his negotiations with the U.S. in a report to the National Assembly.

There is potential for growing discord between the allies. A ministry source said the Moon Jae-in administration now distrusts the 2014 agreement struck by the administration of ousted President Park Geun-hye.

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