US, South Korea reach agreement on defense cost-sharing

The United States and South Korea reached an agreement on defence cost-sharing with increased contribution from South Korea, US State Department said.

“We are pleased that US and Republic of Korea negotiators have reached consensus on a proposed text of a Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that will strengthen our Alliance and our shared defence,” said a State Department spokesperson on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The spokesperson said that the proposed agreement contained “a negotiated meaningful increase in host nation support contributions from the Republic of Korea,” without providing further details.

The two sides are pursuing the final steps needed to conclude the agreement for signature and entry into force, according to the spokesperson.

The 10th SMA reached in March 2019 expired at the end of that year. The United States and South Korea held multiple rounds of negotiations on the 11th SMA, but they failed to reach an agreement following the former US administration demanded a sharp increase in Seoul’s contribution.

Since 1991, South Korea has shared the upkeep cost for US soldiers, including costs for South Korean civilians hired by the US Forces Korea (USFK), construction of military installations, and logistics support.

Currently, about 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea.