The 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) talks to decide the cost of stationing the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) is still adrift. It is even more difficult to predict how the negotiation will be ended as overseas news outlets reported that U.S. President Donald Trump disagreed on South Korea’s suggestion to increase at least 13 percent after the two countries failed to clinch a new agreement on April 1.
According to Reuters on Friday (local time), Trump rejected Seoul’s offer to increase 13 percent from last year by quoting two U.S. government officials. The total amount of a tentative agreement is reportedly some 1.1749 trillion won, which is 13 percent up from last year’s 1.0389 trillion won. Reuters added that Defense Secretary Mark Esper called his South Korean counterpart Monday evening and said President Trump wanted higher contributions from Seoul.
“We view the ‘Seoul’s offer’ in the news report as a tentative working-level agreement,” said multiple government insiders. “That’s not a small amount of money even if we did offer a 13 percent hike,” said a news outlet quoting a South Korean official. But an anonymous Washington official said that it is very disappointing that the two countries couldn’t get to something that was mutually acceptable. This can be interpreted as gaps between South Korea and the U.S.
“We were preparing for the final agreement announcement right after reporting the tentative agreement to increase Seoul’s financial contribution to five billion dollars over the next five years to President Trump late March,” said an insider of the U.S. administration. “As of now, the negotiation is still ongoing.”
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