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US official to visit Seoul for defense cost-sharing deal before official negotiations begin

Timothy Betts, acting deputy assistant secretary and senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements, will visit Seoul this week to discuss the defense cost-sharing pact, sources said Sunday.

Betts, who led the US negotiation team for the 10th defense cost-sharing agreement, will meet with Chang Won-sam, his South Korean counterpart, on Tuesday.


Details on the venue and time of the closed-door meeting have not been revealed, but it may be held at a location other than the Foreign Ministry, sources said.

The two officials were in charge of inking the 10th defense cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement, under which South Korea partly covers the costs for the stationing of about 28,500 members of the US Forces stationed here.

For this year, South Korea agreed to pay 1.03 trillion won ($916.3 million), an increase of 8.2 percent from the previous year.

As this year’s contract is valid for only one year, the two allies have to renew the agreement, but the negotiations have not yet begun, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Bett’s visit this week has reportedly been set up at the request of the United States. As new chiefs on both sides are to lead negotiations for the 11th SMA, Tuesday’s meeting does not signal the start of the new negotiations, a Foreign Ministry official said. 

By Jo He-rim (