WASHINGTON: The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement “in principle” on sharing the cost of stationing US troops in the Asian country, the State Department said on Monday (Feb 4).
“The United States and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement in principle on a new Special Measures Agreement,” a spokeswoman said. “Both sides are committed to working out remaining technical issues as quickly as possible.”
CNN quoted an State Department official as saying that under the revised agreement, South Korea would boost its financial contribution to nearly US$1 billion.
The 2014 deal that expired last year required Seoul to pay about 960 billion won (US$848 million) a year for keeping some 28,500 US troops in the South Korea. The allies had appeared unable to strike an accord to renew the deal despite 10 rounds of talks since March.
The news comes amid a statement from the State Department that the US special envoy for North Korea will head to Pyongyang on Wednesday for talks ahead of a much-anticipated second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
In addition to preparations for the summit, Stephen Biegun’s meetings with North Korean official Kim Hyok Chol will “advance further progress on the commitments the president and Chairman Kim made in Singapore: complete denuclearisation, transforming US-DPRK relations and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula,” a statement read.
In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Trump said the date and venue of his upcoming second summit with the North Korean leader had been agreed – and would likely be announced before or during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Vietnam is seen as the most likely venue for the meeting, which is expected to take place late this month, and follows their landmark first summit in Singapore last June.