South Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sat down in Seoul on Friday for their annual Security Consultative Meeting.
While details of the meeting will be announced during a joint press conference later in the day, pressing issues such as GSOMIA and shared defense costs likely topped the agenda.
The meeting has drawn a lot of attention, given that it comes just a week before Seoul's military intel-sharing pact with Tokyo expires on November 23rd.
Seoul announced its intent to withdraw from the pact in August after Japan slapped export curbs on South Korea, citing a breach of trust on security issues.
The U.S. has been pushing South Korea to extend the agreement, saying it's vital for trilateral security cooperation and to cope with regional threats.
But Seoul continues to insist that reconsideration can only take place if Japan first changes course.
On the issue of defense-cost sharing the U.S. side is expected to have pressed South Korea to drastically increase its share of the funds needed to station American troops on the Korean peninsula.
Washington is reportedly calling on Seoul to pay nearly five billion U.S. dollars a year, which is more than five times the amount South Korea agreed to pay under the current deal.
On his way to Seoul, Esper said the U.S. had already requested a significant increase, but didn't elaborate.
Another talking point: Seoul retaking wartime operational control from Washington.
The allies have already conducted joint training to test Seoul's initial operational capability for the envisioned transfer with Jeong and Esper expected to have assessed the results at Friday's meeting.
Later in the day, Esper will sit down for talks with President Moon Jae-in. with speculation they could touch upon sensitive issues like GSOMIA.
President Moon will likely reiterate why Seoul is unable to reverse its decision to end the intelligence sharing pact without a major change in Japan's attitude on historical and trade issues.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.