South Korea has agreed to substantially increase its contribution to cover the cost of keeping USA troops in that country.
The official Special Measures Agreement (SMA) will be officially signed by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris after Cabinet members and President Moon Jae-in approve the preliminary document.
Unlike past agreements, which lasted for five years, this one is scheduled to expire in a year, potentially forcing both sides back to the bargaining table within months.
The statement said the two countries reaffirmed the need for a "stable" us military deployment amid the "rapidly changing situation on the Korean Peninsula". The North and its main backer, China, also would like to see the US military presence removed from their doorstep.
The allies struggled to reach a breakthrough despite 10 rounds of talks since March, amid Trump's repeated calls for a sharp increase in South Korea's contribution.
"The US government realizes that Korea does a lot for the alliance and for peace and stability of this region", Betts said. South Korean officials pushed for a three-year deal keeping their annual contribution around $864 million. "But it's an important part and we are pleased that our consultations resulted in an agreement that I think will strengthen transparency and strengthen and deepen our cooperation in the alliance".
Seoul contributes around 70 percent to cover the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the United States military.
Some conservatives in South Korea voiced concerns over a weakening alliance with the United States at the same time as negotiations with North Korea to deprive it of its nuclear weapons hit a stalemate.
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Trump tweeted in 2014 that South Korea was "absolutely killing us on trade deals", noting that "their surplus vs U.S.is massive - and we pay for their protection".
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. During his election campaign, Trump suggested he could pull back troops from South Korea and Japan unless they took on greater a share of the financial burdens of supporting USA soldiers deployed there.
Negotiators held 10 rounds of talks past year but remained deadlocked over President Donald Trump's demand that the South pay significantly more.
The ministry said that although the United States had demanded a "huge increase" in payment, they were able to reach an agreement that reflects "the security situation of the Korean peninsula".
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) with President Donald Trump at the start of their historic summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
Trump's top envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, visited Pyongyang last week to work out details of the upcoming summit.
The U.S. military arrived in South Korea to disarm Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45, following its World War II defeat. 70 percent of South Korea's support covers the salaries of 8.700 South Koreans who provide administrative and technical services for the 28,500 American troops stationed in their country.