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SOFA talks might resume in early 2001

Posted December. 26, 2000 13:59,   


Seoul and Washington most likely will resume talks on revising the agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Korea at the beginning of the new year in the hope of clinching the deal before President Bill Clinton leaves office Jan. 20.

Korean government officials said Monday that they had been weighing several options including: settlement of resumed negotiations by the end of the year; resolution of the issue before the end of Clinton's term of office by reopening talks early next year; holding it over to the incoming Republican administration, which might give rise to a problem regarding preservation of the conference records. Resumption of the talks early next year is considered most realistic, they said.

According to the officials, chief delegates of the two sides, Korea's Song Min-Soon, director general of the foreign ministry's North American Bureau, and the U.S. Defense Department's assistant undersecretary for Asia and the Pacific Frederick Smith are continuing their informal consultations over the telephone, and the American officials concerned are working hard on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agenda even doing without Christmas holidays.