US, South Korea seek to break cost-sharing deadlock with furlough imminent

South Korean and American flags wave near Third Republic of Korea Army headquarters at Yongin, South Korea, in 2016. KEN SCAR/U.S. ARMY
South Korean and American flags wave near Third Republic of Korea Army headquarters at Yongin, South Korea, in 2016. KEN SCAR/U.S. ARMY

US, South Korea seek to break cost-sharing deadlock with furlough imminent

by Kim Gamel
Stars and Stripes

SEOUL, South Korea — The United States and South Korea will resume talks to hammer out a defense cost-sharing agreement this week in Los Angeles as thousands of local workers face an imminent furlough.

The negotiations, which were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, will be the first in more than two months. The two sides remain deadlocked over U.S. demands that the South sharply increase its contribution to offset the costs of stationing some 28,500 service members on the divided peninsula.

U.S. negotiators have reportedly dropped initial demands for a fivefold increase in funding of nearly $5 billion a year but are still seeking an increase of at least three times the $920 million that South Korea paid last year.

Seoul, meanwhile, is believed to have offered to go as high as 10% more but wants to maintain the framework of the so-called Special Measures Agreement, which currently covers most of the salaries of South Koreans who work for the U.S. military as well as other logistical and construction costs.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.622552

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