South Korea and the United States were set to hold the last day of defense cost-sharing talks on Wednesday, but chances of a deal appear to be low as the two sides remain far apart over how much more Seoul should pay.
Jeong Eun-bo, South Korea's chief negotiator, and his U.S. counterpart, James DeHart, were scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. in Seoul to continue the two-day talks on renewing the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), the cost-sharing deal.
This week's negotiations will likely be the last round of talks before the current SMA expires on Dec. 31.
Yet chances are low that the two sides will strike a deal before the year's end, as they remain far apart over how much Seoul should pay for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).
Washington has reportedly demanded a fivefold increase in Seoul's payments to nearly US$5 billion. Under this year's SMA, Seoul agreed to pay about $870 million.
The U.S. apparently wants to create a new clause in the SMA in order to get Seoul to cover expenses related to the allies' combined military exercises and support for USFK troops' families.
Seoul insists that the negotiations should proceed within the SMA framework, which requires it to pay partial costs for Korean employees in USFK installations, construction of some military facilities and logistical support. (Yonhap)