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Conflicts between S. Korea and U.S. on defense costs

Posted November. 20, 2019 07:35,   

Updated November. 20, 2019 07:35


The third negotiation for the 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) on the sharing of military spending between South Korea and the U.S. to determine next year’s expense of stationing of United States Forces Korea (USFK) fell apart due to significant differences between the two countries. This is the first time that the two countries simultaneously announced the failure to reach an agreement since 1991 when the SMA discussions began. The sounds of the conflicts between the two countries will seem to get only louder regarding the U.S.’ five-billion-dollar request.

South Korea and the U.S. were scheduled to have negotiations on the topic on Monday and Tuesday in Seoul. The Tuesday session was planned to last from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but it ended at 11:30 a.m., just 90 minutes after it began.

"Unfortunately, the proposals that were put forward by the Korean team were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden sharing," said James DeHart, the chief U.S. negotiator in defense cost-sharing negotiations, right after the early closing of the talks during an urgent press conference at the American Center Korea in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. He also added that the U.S. will give the Korean side some time to reconsider and that the U.S. negotiators came to Seoul with an open heart to listen and are ready to adjust their position if necessary to move towards a mutually-acceptable agreement.

“The reason why the talks came to an end earlier than scheduled is because the U.S. side left the negotiation room,” said South Korea's chief negotiator Jeong Eun-bo during a press briefing held at the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs two hours later, laying the responsibility on the U.S. for the fall out. “It is true that there is a significant difference between the overall proposal from the United States and our position in principle,” he added.

Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com · Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com