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S. Korea's share of defense costs with U.S. to focus on construction, payroll, losgistics Updated: 2019-02-12 05:15:53 KST

Under this year's Special Measures Agreement, or SMA,.. Seoul's financial contribution for some 28-thousand U.S. forces stationed on the Korean Peninsula will be around 9-hundred-24-million U.S. dollars.
That money will be spent mainly in three areas: facility construction, payroll for South Korean employees and lostistics support.
But it's not yet been decided how the money will be assigned to these items.
That'll be determined according to procedures agreed upon by the two countries in their new deal, and South Korea's defense ministry and U.S. Forces Korea will have further consultations to set the exact amounts.
Last year, South Korea contributed around 850 million U.S. dollars.
More than 46 percent of the money was spent on military construction, followed by nearly 40 percent on the salaries of South Korean employees,.. and lastly, 15 percent on military logistics support.
Local military experts say they think the proportion of each budget item won't change much from last year.
Seoul and Washington signed their first SMA back in 1991 to guarantee and support a stable American force on the Peninsula by sharing some of the costs.
And under the SMA, South Korea pays for its nationals working at U.S. military bases in the country, as well as costs related to facility construction and logistics.
However, during last year's many rounds of talks, the U.S. had asked South Korea to pay for the operation of strategic assets as well.
Seoul said those do not fall under the original scope of the allies cost-sharing agreements, and the 2019 plan does not include them.
The two countries also had long disputed how much South Korea should contribute in total.
A military expert in Seoul proposes that rather than settling on a total amount first, the two countries should start negotiating on budget sub-categories, and then add those up to make a final amount.

"I think the two countries need to be more specific about each budget item. For example,.. they need to discuss which categories should be paid for by Seoul alone, which items should be divided between them, and which should be solely paid for by the U.S. That way, they can settle on a reasonable total cost."

In fact, both sides have agreed to set up a regular consultation they're calling a "working group" in which they'll discuss ways to improve their cost sharing.
Park Ji-won, Arirang News.
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