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S. Korean, US Defense Negotiators Set to Collide over American Troop Costs

Write: 2019-12-03 13:54:40Update: 2019-12-03 14:22:19

S. Korean, US Defense Negotiators Set to Collide over American Troop Costs

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: Following the collapse of defense cost talks between Seoul and Washington last month, the chief negotiators from both sides are meeting again in the U.S. Though Seoul has not hinted at any major concessions, Washington appears unwilling to budge from its reported demand that South Korea increase its contributions by some 500 percent.
Moon Gwang-lip has more.

Report: Two weeks after U.S. negotiators stormed out of defense cost talks, Seoul and Washington are gearing up for another intense debate.   

Washington has reportedly asked Seoul to quintuple its share of the cost needed to keep the 28-thousand-500 American troops on the Korean Peninsula. 

[Sound bite: Jeong Eun-bo - S. Korean chief negotiator to defense cost talks (Korean)]  
(Reporter: Would you respond to [your counterpart who said] South Korea was given time to formulate new offers?)    
"Well, I can say that we brought alternative plans." 

Upon arriving at Washington’s Dulles International Airport Monday, Seoul's chief negotiator Jeong Eun-bo said he came equipped with alternative offers. 

But the former Finance Ministry official doesn't appear to have any major concessions in mind. 

[Sound bite: Jeong Eun-bo - S. Korean chief negotiator to defense cost talks (Korean)] 
"Reasonable and fair burden sharing must be reached and finally, the most important principle, is that the negotiation must contribute to the South Korea-U.S. alliance and combined readiness. We are still sticking with the principle that the negotiations must take place within the framework of the Special Measures Agreement(SMA)."  

The U.S. is reportedly asking Seoul to forget the existing cost breakdown and cover additional expenses needed for the rotational deployment of American soldiers on the peninsula and their training outside of the region.   

As the South Korean negotiator says the two sides may not reach an accord by the year-end deadline, Washington also shows little signs of budging.  

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia David Stilwell stressed during a forum in Washington Monday that the U.S.' Northeast Asian allies are more capable to cooperate.

[Sound bite: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia David Stilwell (English)]
"I've seen all of them both step up to the challenge since my first tour there in 1980 and their capabilities grow exponentially. I see opportunities for further cooperation and an ability to use their capabilities as well as ours in a cooperative way."  
"As our partners have become wealthier and more capable of taking care of their own security as well as our shared security interests that they take care of that, that they invest in that as a show of alignment, as a show of support and a demonstration of our concerns about the changes that are taking place in the region."  

After a closed-door preliminary sit-down, the fourth round of cost sharing negotiations between Seoul and Washington will kick off on Tuesday at the U.S. State Department.
Moon Gwang-lip, KBS World Radio News.

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