ROK and U.S. sign defense cost deal

Chen Zhuo

ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Harry Harris after signing a deal on defense cost-sharing in Seoul, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States signed the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) Friday, calling for an 8.2 percent hike in Seoul's share of the cost of the American troops stationed in the ROK, Yonhap reported.

"This now becomes the foundation of - one of the foundations of - the alliance, and something that the alliance will build upon to become stronger and greater," ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Harry Harris after the signing ceremony, according to Yonhap.

Harris echoed, saying the agreement underscores the "importance and the ironclad nature" of the U.S.-ROK alliance.

The newly signed SMA, valid for one year, will be submitted to the ROK's National Assembly next week for ratification and is expected to take into effect in April.

Before signing the agreement, the two sides held ten rounds of talks but failed to reach a consensus on the total amount of ROK's contribution and the duration of the agreement. The ROK wished a three to five years duration while the U.S. requested a one-year contract.

Earlier on Monday, the U.S. and the ROK launched a nine-day joint military exercise known as Dong Maeng to replace the springtime "Key Resolve and Foal Eagle" joint military drills.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) blasted the U.S.-ROK joint military drills, claiming it violates the agreements reached last year.


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