South Korea signs new deal to pay United States more for troop presence

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig

Timothy Betts (L), acting deputy assistant secretary and senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements in the U.S. Department of State and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, on February 10, 2019.

The last agreement expired on December 31.

South Korean media earlier reported that Trump demanded South Korea double its spending for the US military deployment, before his government eventually asked for 1.13 trillion won ($1 billion).

South Korea will pay $60 million more for the upkeep of us troops on its territory-this after President Donald Trump demanded that Seoul boost its contribution. Seoul paid 960 billion won ($830 million) a year ago. America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have boosted military spending by $100 billion after similar demands from Trump.

Unlike past agreements, which lasted for five years, this one is expected 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" USA military deployment amid the "rapidly changing situation on the Korean Peninsula". -North Korea summit due to take place at the end of the month in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Timothy Betts, the top USA delegate to the Special Measures Agreement talks, appeared at a signing ceremony. "We will have to deal with them, but I think at this point we were able to close the gap on the total amount".

The United States agreed there will be no change in US troop levels in South Korea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

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U.S. State Department senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements, Timothy Betts, met Kang before signing the agreement on behalf of the United States, and told reporters the money represented a small but important part of the ROK's support for the alliance. "We are very pleased that our consultations resulted in an agreement, and I think that will deepen our cooperation in the alliance". Situated at the epicenter of one of the world's most geopolitically volatile regions, the Korean Peninsula is of particular strategic importance to USA policy and posture across East Asia. "But, you know, it's very expensive to keep troops there". But he insists that troop numbers are not part of the equation in nuclear talks with the North.

Trump told CBS' "Face the Nation" last Sunday that he has no plans to withdraw troops from South Korea.

Brinkmanship is common in the cost-sharing talks, which have taken place since 1991, but the US -led effort to persuade North Korea to give up its weapons raised the stakes.

Last year, South Korea provided about 960 billion won, roughly 40 per cent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 United States soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea. The North and its main backer, China, also would like to see the US military presence removed from their doorstep.

About 70 percent of South Korea's contribution covers the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the US military.

Yonhap said the U.S. had previously demanded 1.13 trillion won (US$1 billion) from South Korea.

The U.S. military also enjoys less tangible benefits, including rent-free land for its bases and an exemption that allows government-operated vehicles to use expressways toll-free.

At their first meeting in Singapore a year ago, the notoriously unpredictable US president had made a shock decision to suspend US-South Korea military drills.

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