South Korea signs deal to pay more for U.S. troops

13 February, 2019, 06:30 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • US President Donald Trump at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland on Friday

Yonhap quoted South Korea's presidential office as saying that Biegun planned to meet the North Koreans again in an Asian country next week.

But both sides worked to hammer out a deal to minimise the impact of the lapse on South Korean workers on US military bases, and focus on nuclear talks ahead of a second US-North Korea summit, Seoul officials said.

The allies had struggled to reach a breakthrough despite 10 rounds of talks since March, amid Trump's repeated calls for a sharp increase in South Korea's contribution.

Last month, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress he believed it was unlikely North Korea would give up all its nuclear weapons and that it had continued activity inconsistent with pledges to denuclearize.

The deal is for one year only and negotiations for next year would have to begin in a few months.

At their first meeting in Singapore past year, the notoriously unpredictable US president had made a shock decision to suspend US-South Korea military drills.

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Most US troops were withdrawn in 1949 but they returned the next year to fight alongside South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean war.

But both sides worked to hammer out an agreement to minimise the impact on South Koreans working on US military bases, and focus on nuclear talks ahead of a second U.S. North Korea has not announced which of its cities would join Seoul, but experts say it is likely to be Pyongyang.

Timothy Betts (L), acting deputy assistant secretary and senior advisor for security negotiations and agreements in the U.S. Department of State and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha before their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, on February 10, 2019. But on Sunday, South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement that the United States had affirmed it would not be changing the scale of its troop presence.

The commander of USA forces in South Korea has said he has seen "little to no verifiable change" in North Korea's military capabilities, just weeks away from a second summit between Donald Trump and regime leader Kim Jong-un.

"Pyongyang "is using civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing "decapitation" strikes" on a smaller number of identified nuclear and missile assembly and manufacturing sites", the United Nations report said.

FILE PHOTO - People carry flags in front of statues of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong Il during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018.

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