The Korea Herald


S. Korea, US to hold 2nd round of defense cost sharing talks next week

By Yonhap

Published : May 16, 2024 - 09:28

    • Link copied

US Forces Korea (Getty Images) US Forces Korea (Getty Images)

South Korea and the United States will hold their second round of negotiations in Seoul next week on the sharing of the costs for the upkeep of American soldiers stationed here, Seoul officials said Thursday.

The talks, set for Tuesday through Thursday, come about a month after the allies launched the negotiations on determining how much Seoul should shoulder for the stationing of the 28,500-strong US Forces Korea.

The first round of the SMA talks took place in Hawaii.

The current six-year deal, known as the Special Measures Agreement, is due to expire at the end of 2025. Under the latest and 11th SMA, South Korea agreed to raise the payment by 13.9 percent from 2019 to $1.03 billion for 2021.

Lee Tae-woo, South Korea's chief negotiator, will host the US delegation, led by his counterpart, Linda Specht, lead negotiator for security agreements at the State Department.

South Korea has emphasized that a new SMA deal should come at a "reasonable level" to create conditions for a stable stationing of the USFK and to strengthen the allies' joint defense posture.

The US has said it seeks to pursue a "fair and equitable" outcome in the defense burden sharing talks with Seoul.

"More than 90 percent of ROK contributions are expended in the ROK's domestic economy, and they represent a powerful investment in the US-ROK Alliance," the US Embassy in Seoul said.

ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.

The defense cost sharing agreements reflect "shared commitment" to a stable stationing environment for US forces in South Korea and a robust combined defense posture, the embassy said.

"Our consultations on renewing the Special Measures Agreement underline the enduring vitality of the US-ROK alliance, which remains the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for Northeast Asia, the broader Indo-Pacific, and beyond," it said.

Since 1991, Seoul has partially shouldered costs under the SMA for Korean USFK workers; the construction of military installations, such as barracks, and training, educational, operational and communications facilities; and other logistical support. (Yonhap)