U.S. rejects call to first address Korean workers’ wage issue in defense cost talks: official

SEOUL,  The United States has officially opposed a proposal for a separate deal to fund wages for South Korean workers in the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), Seoul’s top negotiator in the allies’ defense cost-sharing talks said Saturday.

During the latest talks in Los Angeles, South Korea had pushed for the proposal, as thousands of the workers face furloughs that could start on April 1 absent the cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

“We proposed a memorandum of understanding to ensure that the workers will receive their pay and strongly demanded that this be first addressed,” Seoul’s top negotiator Jeong Eun-bo told reporters upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.

“The U.S. side officially opposed that proposal on the grounds that there is a possibility that (a separate negotiation on the wage issue) could further delay the negotiations (for a broader SMA),” he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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