Seoul and Washington expect to reach an agreement sooner rather than later on their defense cost-sharing negotiations.
Heading to Washington D.C. on Thursday for the 9th round of talks on the Special Measures Agreement, Seoul's chief negotiator Jeong Eun-bo hinted that the two sides have made substantial progress.
"I will be talking face-to-face in the U.S. to resolve some remaining issues. As for the negotiations, the two sides have made a substantial agreement in general, so I expect to reach a deal as early as possible."
The negotiator withheld further details on the on-going talks with his American counterpart, including exactly how much the deal will come to and when it will take effect.
A U.S. State Department official also told Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency that Seoul and Washington are "very close" to reaching an agreement on an updated SMA, calling the bilateral alliance the "linchpin" of peace, security and prosperity in the region and the world.
It is widely expected that the Biden administration will accept a 13 percent increase from South Korea's last payment, as well as a multi-year agreement that increases Seoul's contribution.
In 2019, South Korea paid over 900-million U.S. dollars.
Talks on the deal have been stalled for about a year after the previous Trump administration demanded a sharp increase.
But Biden has made it clear that his administration wants to restore alliances, including striking a deal with Seoul as early as possible.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.