Mar 13, 2018
SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have ended their first round of discussions in what will likely be monthslong negotiations on cost-sharing for the upkeep of the 28,500 American troops stationed here, officials said Sunday.
The South Korean delegation, led by a career diplomat Chang Won-sam, returned home Sunday after the three-day meeting, which kicked off in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Wednesday (local time).
Chang was appointed in mid-November to head the South Korean negotiation team for the talks with his counterpart, Timothy Betts, deputy assistant secretary for plans, programs and operations at the U.S. State Department.
Officials of the allies are known to have met six times during the three days to discuss how to renew their current cost-sharing agreement.
South Korea has shared U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) upkeep costs since 1991 under the so-called Special Measures Agreement (SMA). The current accord, signed in 2014, is set to expire at the end of this year.
Seoul's contribution has increased to around 960 billion won ($887.5 million) this year from 150 billion won in 1991. The U.S. has asked Seoul to shoulder more of the financial burden.
The outcome of the cost-sharing negotiation is subject to parliamentary ratification.
Image: In this photo provided by the foreign ministry, South Korea's chief negotiator, Chang Won-sam (R), shakes hands with his U.S. counterpart, Timothy Betts, in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 7, 2018. (Yonhap)