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SOFA Discord to start next month

Posted July. 12, 2000 12:39,   


July11, the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry announced a new round of SOFA (Status of Force Agreement) slated for two days beginning 2nd of next month.

The key issue which will be brought to the table concerns the administrative procedure related to the extradition and custody of American suspect. The nations had met previously for the very question in seven rounds of talks from November of 1995 to September 1996. However, they were not able to come to an agreement over the key issues, breaking off the talks for the next three years. An official of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry stated, "The current round will also bring to the table the questions concerning environmental pollution effected by the presence of the American Armed Forces as well as labor rights for Koreans working within the Armed Forces." However, the official added a voice of pessimism stating, "The degree to which we will be able to iron out the differences is uncertain."

The official strongly emphasized, "We cannot change our jurisdictional reach and authority for the 37,000 American soldiers stationed in Korea." He further commented that while it is acceptable that the American suspect will be handed over to the Korea authorities at an earlier time than under current agreement, it is not acceptable for America to retain the right to request an extradition of the suspect.

During a gathering of Parliamentary representatives, the American Ambassador to Korea, Stephen Bosworth affirmed that the SOFA was a technical one which could be a source of great confusion. However, it is a necessary one for the greater benefit of both nations."