Defense Burden-Sharing Talks Drag on

  • By Ahn Jun-yong

    December 14, 2018 09:25

    Korea and the U.S. on Thursday wrapped up a 10th round of talks in Seoul without agreeing how much Korea should pay for the upkeep of American forces here. That suggests the two sides are unlikely to settle the matter before year's end, when the current five-year cost-sharing agreement expires.

    Korean negotiator Chang Won-sam and his U.S. counterpart Timothy Betts were at loggerheads over key issues like the total amount of Seoul's share, annual increases, and how long it is to remain in effect. Seoul currently pays about half the upkeep for the U.S. Forces Korea.

    It will probably keep paying the current amount until a new agreement goes into effect.

    U.S. President Donald Trump has called for Seoul to double its share of about W960.2 billion (US$1=W1,125). Washington recently asked Seoul to increase its share by 50 percent to US$1.2 billion, but Seoul demurred.

    Meanwhile, the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command has gone back to square one in plans to relocate its headquarters from the current location in Yongsan to the Defense Ministry compound in late December.

    "The CFC is considering staying at the current location, demanding a stand-alone building in the Defense Ministry compound, or relocating to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, because staff would have to work in four different buildings if they simply relocate to the ministry compound," a military source said.

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