US, South Korea reach agreement on sharing troop costs

US, South Korea reach agreement on sharing troop costs
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The U.S. and South Korea have reached an agreement “in principle” on sharing the cost of U.S. troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE had announced in June that he would cancel joint military exercises in South Korea because they were too expensive and the U.S. had to foot most of the bill.

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Under a 2014 deal that expired in 2018, Seoul agreed to pay $848 million each year to support about 28,500 troops in South Korea. 

A State Department spokesman told Reuters on Monday that a new agreement had been reached.

“The United States and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement in principle on a new Special Measures Agreement,” the official said. “Both sides are committed to working out remaining technical issues as quickly as possible.”

Another official told CNN that South Korea would increase its contributions to almost $1 billion to aid the troops’ deployment.

Trump has excoriated allies in Europe and Asia for what he says are inadequate contributions to shared defense, specifically mentioning NATO contributions and money from South Korea.

South Korean news agency Yonhap cited a diplomatic source in the country as saying that Seoul’s offer to pay $1 billion would last a year rather than five years for the previous agreement.

Roughly 70 percent of Seoul’s funds for the troops cover salaries of nearly 9,000 South Korean employees who assist the U.S. military, according to Reuters.

Steve Biegun, the U.S. special representative on North Korea, said last week there had been no discussions with either North or South Korea regarding troop withdrawals from the Korean Peninsula.

“We are not involved in any diplomatic discussion — full stop — that would suggest this tradeoff. It has never been discussed,” he said.

The deal comes ahead of a planned summit this month between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to further negotiate North Korea’s denuclearization.