Thursday, 18 July, 2019

South Korea signs short-term deal to pay more for USA troops

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig South Korea signs deal to pay more for US troops
Patty Aguilar | 13 February, 2019, 01:46

Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on February 27-28 in Vietnam, following their unprecedented meeting in June in Singapore.

Seoul contributed around 960 billion won previous year - more than 40 percent of the total bill - financing the construction of American military facilities and paying South Korean civilians working on U.S. bases.

A Patriot missile launcher enters Osan Air Base, South Korea, during Bravo Battery, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion's field training exercise conducted November 27 to December 7, 2018.

South Korea and the US have finally reached an agreement on this year's defense cost sharing deal, with Seoul's financial contribution for the stationing of some 28-thousand American troops on the Korean Peninsula at 9-hundred-24 million USA dollars.

Under a new cost-sharing agreement signed by South Korean and American negotiators on Sunday, Seoul will pay approximately $923 million in 2019, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement cited by the Associated Press.

According to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, the unidentified administrator of the official Paekhwawon guesthouse in Pyongyang was found guilty of corruption after the ruling Workers' Party's Organization and Guidance Department conducted a raid on his property in October, on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's orders. Both were held in South Korea. Although North Korea has made no official announcement about the summit so far, political experts are not seeing it in a negative light. "We will have to deal with them, but I think at this point we were able to close the gap on the total amount".

The disagreement had raised the prospect that Mr Trump could decide to withdraw at least some troops from South Korea, as he has done in other countries like Syria.

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About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, where the U.S. has maintained a military presence since the 1950-1953 Korean War. Betts also said the U.S.is pleased with the results, acknowledging Seoul's contribution to the alliance.

Malpass said he had a very good meeting with Hong with "the discussion about the World Bank and ways to have more growth in various developing countries".

The approximately 8 percent increase in payments by South Korea to the United States is likely to check one of the boxes on US President Donald Trump's "to do" list. Their first summit in Singapore last June resulted in Kim's vague commitment to "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", a term that his propaganda machine previously used when it argued it would only denuclearize after the USA withdraws its troops from South Korea. The two men are expected to deliberate on the denuclearization of North Korea. Also, the deal was originally going to be for five years, . but the US insisted on just one year.

About 70 percent of South Korea's payment funds the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean workers who provide administrative, technical, and other services for the USA military.

A group of activists staged a rally Sunday in front of the foreign ministry building against the agreement, claiming that renegotiating the agreement would largely increase Seoul's burden.

Late past year, the USA military warned Korean workers on its bases they might be put on leave from mid-April if no deal was agreed.

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