Washington, Seoul signal deal for maintenance of US troops

ANKARA

Washington and Seoul on Friday signed a deal on costs sharing for the upkeep of U.S. troops in Seoul, a media report said.  

According to South Korea’s official Yonhap news agency, the agreement calls for an 8.2 percent hike in Seoul’s share of the cost of stationing American troops in South Korea.

“This now becomes the foundation of — one of the foundations of — the alliance, and something that the alliance will build upon to become stronger and greater,” Yonhap quoted South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha telling Washington’s top envoy in Seoul, Harry Harris, after the signing ceremony.

The agreement will be valid for only one year against the wishes of Seoul which wanted it to be effective for three to five years which Washington did not accept, according to the news agency.

In February, South Korea agreed to pay 1.04 trillion won (US$920 million) in 2019 for the operation of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), up from 960 billion won ($853 million) the previous year.

“The signing of this Special Measures Agreement is a clear signal of this strength of the ironclad nature of our alliance,” Yonhap quoted Gen. Robert Abrams, the USFK commander, as saying.

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