January 22, 2019 12:28
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Monday admitted there remain "huge" differences in talks between Seoul and Washington over splitting the cost of keeping the U.S. Forces Korea here.
Kang told reporters after a closed-door meeting with lawmakers. "I cannot tell you the exact amount" the U.S. is seeking for the upkeep of some 28,500 personnel "but I have to be clear that there are huge differences in opinion."
"I have fully explained the negotiation process to lawmakers so far and I think they know the extreme difficulties we face," she added.
Kang Seok-ho, the head of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, said, "Talks have hit a wall because of the exorbitant demands the U.S. made in working-level negotiations."
He quoted the minister as saying that 10 rounds of negotiations have taken place since March of last year but they have now been called off "due to the U.S.' new demands."
Another lawmaker said, "We have proposed an amount of less than W1 trillion, but the U.S. demanded W1.2 trillion" (US$1=W1,131). He said the minister spoke on the phone with her U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo, "but there seems to be no change in the U.S.' position."
Kan Kyung-wha also told lawmakers that she had been briefed in detail about the results of the recent U.S. visit by Kim Yong-chol, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right-hand man.
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