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S. Korea, U.S. wrap up 3rd round of defense cost-sharing talks in Washington

South Korea and the United States concluded their third round of negotiations to determine Seoul's share of the cost for stationing the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) on Wednesday, the chief U.S. negotiator said, casting them as "productive." Seoul's chief negotiator, Lee Tae-woo, and Linda Specht, U.S. lead negotiator for security agreements at the State Department, led the three-day talks in Washington over a cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), as the current six-year SMA is set to expire at the end of next year. "The delegations from the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) again conducted productive discussions, identifying areas of agreement and issues requiring careful consideration, as we continue working toward a mutually acceptable agreement that supports our shared security," Specht said in a statement. "These consultations reflect the enduring strength of, and our commitment to, the U.S.-ROK Alliance, which undergirds peace and prosperity for the Kore an and American people," she added. The two sides launched the negotiations in April apparently earlier than usual amid speculation that should former President Donald Trump return to the White House, he could call for a hefty increase in Seoul's share of the cost for the upkeep of USFK in a way that could cause tension in the alliance. Since 1991, Seoul has partially shared the cost for Korean USFK workers; the construction of military installations, such as barracks, as well as training, educational, operational and communications facilities; and other logistical support. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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