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US, South Korea reach agreement on defence cost-sharing

WASHINGTON/SEOUL - The United States and South Korea reached an agreement on defense cost-sharing with increased contribution from South Korea, U.S. State Department said on Sunday.

"We are pleased that U.S. and Republic of Korea negotiators have reached consensus on a proposed text of a Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that will strengthen our Alliance and our shared defense," said a State Department spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that the proposed agreement contained "a negotiated meaningful increase in host nation support contributions from the Republic of Korea," without providing further details.

The two sides are pursuing the final steps needed to conclude the agreement for signature and entry into force, according to the spokesperson.

The 10th SMA reached in March 2019 expired at the end of that year. The United States and South Korea held multiple rounds of negotiations on the 11th SMA, but they failed to reach an agreement following the former U.S. administration demanded a sharp increase in Seoul's contribution.

Since 1991, South Korea has shared the upkeep cost for U.S. soldiers, including costs for South Korean civilians hired by the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), construction of military installations, and logistics support.

Currently, about 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.