Defense cost-sharing talks cut short amid wide differences between Seoul, Washington
Updated: 2019-11-19 13:37:42 KST
South Korea and the U.S. have cut short their latest round of talks on sharing the cost of stationing American troops on the Korean Peninsula.
The talks that began Monday were supposed to last through Tuesday but they decided to end this round having failed to narrow their differences.
For more, we connect to our foreign ministry correspondent Kim Min-ji on the line.
Min-ji, fill us in
Devin, it's an unprecedented development.
Less than two hours after the talks began this morning, Seoul's foreign ministry announced that the talks had come to an abrupt close.
It said that negotiations did not go as initially planned as Washington was seeking a massive increase, while Seoul is unchanged in its stance that the figure must be fair and acceptable.
Just about an hour ago Seoul's chief negotiator Jeong Eun-bo who's been leading the South Korean team held a press briefing where he told reporters that the U.S. was trying to drastically raise Korea's share by establishing new articles under the cost-sharing agreement.
He said that Seoul's stance is unchanged and that the figure must be mutually acceptable and within the framework of the special measures agreement.
Jeong added that they will do their best to ensure Seoul shoulders a fair share in a way that strengthens the alliance.
I understand the U.S. side also hastily arranged a press conference earlier today?
U.S. chief negotiator James Dehart said that the proposals put forward by Seoul were not responsive to their requests for fair and equitable burden sharing.
He added that the talks were cut short in order to give Seoul some time to reconsider and put forward new proposals that would enable both sides to work towards a mutually acceptable agreement in the spirit of their alliance.
He didn't take any questions from the press but we were told that the U.S. side walked out of the negotiations first.
Since 1991, Seoul has shared defense costs with the U.S. under the Special Measures Agreement.
Under the current one-year deal which expires at the end of the year Seoul agreed to pay 870 million U.S. dollars, an increase from the previous deal of more than 8 percent.
This time, Washington reportedly called on Seoul to pay five billion U.S. dollars which is more than a five-fold increase.
While officials in Seoul say that a date has been set for the next round of talks some readjustments may be needed given what happened Tuesday.
Mind you, the year-end deadline is approaching but if the two sides are unable to conclude an agreement Seoul and Washington did make it possible to extend the agreement. in preparation for a possible lapse.
Back to you Devin.