South Korea and the U.S. could scale down their combined military exercises next month due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"General Abrams and General Park are looking at scaling back the command post training due to concerns about the coronavirus."
"The situation in Korea is quite serious because of the coronavirus outbreak, and we are now prohibiting training and unit movements."
The remarks came at a press conference after the two defense chiefs met Monday at the Pentagon.
Their bilateral computer-simulated training exercises are to begin on March 9th.
Jeong and Esper explained that any changes to the exercises won't impact the allies' combined defense posture.
Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington are still far from narrowing down their gap in views on sharing defense costs.
The two sides have not been able to agree on a Special Measures Agreement for this year.
"We must find a more sustainable and equitable means of sharing the costs of our combined defense with the Republic of Korea. As a global economic powerhouse and an equal partner in the preservation of peace on the peninsula, South Korea can and should contribute more to its defense."
"We are considering a higher rate of increase for the Special Measures Agreement contributions. But it is true that there still remains a difference in positions in regards to the large increase proposed by the U.S."
While the negotiations are at a standstill, the U.S. is pushing South Korea into a corner, saying South Korean workers at U.S. bases in South Korea will be furloughed starting in April.
The Trump administration has asked Seoul to pay nearly 5 billion U.S. dollars for 2020, a five-fold increase from last year, but has reportedly stepped back from that request.
It was expected that the two allies would have another round of negotiations in February, but it's still unclear when or whether they will.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.