WASHINGTON – The Pentagon said Tuesday it had reached an agreement with South Korea on a proposal for Seoul to fund thousands of South Korean peripheral workers at U.S. bases that had been placed on unpaid leave earlier this year. President Donald Trump has said that South Korea should pay more, and differences of opinion have raised the prospect that it may at least withdraw some American troops, as he has done elsewhere. The United States angered workers in South Korea in April after the two allies failed to sign a new cost-sharing agreement. The United States will host the Republic of Korea (ROK) from October 22-24 in Honolulu, Hawaii, for consultations on the Special Measures Agreement (ADM). The SMA, a kind of burden-sharing agreement, is the mechanism with which the Republic of Korea shares the costs of US forces for the defence of the Republic of Korea. The United States has had ADMs with the Republic of Korea since 1991 and this new agreement will replace the existing SMA, which expires at the end of 2019. SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. military will put nearly 9,000 South Korean workers on unpaid leave from April in the absence of an agreement on cost-sharing to keep 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, it told the government.
Although the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have made some progress in negotiating the Exceptional Measures Agreement (SMA), the two sides do not appear ready to engage in meaningful negotiations. The basic positions of the two countries remain totally different: the United States wants a negotiated agreement that reflects the total cost of ROC defence beyond the existing ADM, including transportation, training and equipment for the Korean Armed Forces (USFK), while the ROK tries to maintain the current framework of the SMA, which covers only three categories : the cost of labor for Korean workers in USFK, logistics costs and construction for USFK. However, the two countries have still not agreed on a broader agreement on cost allocation, which has led workers to get their ass kicked. South Korea and the United States are embroered in a nearly two-year dispute over how much each must pay to support the approximately 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with a ceasefire, not a peace treaty. With respect to the declining ADM, the Department of Defence believes that a fair distribution of burdens between the governments of the United States and the Republic of Korea is in the interests of all parties. We strongly encourage our allies to reach a fair agreement as quickly as possible. The United States has shown great flexibility in its negotiations on the SMA and calls for the ROK to do the same. The ROK`s position is well received by the local public, but almost a non-departure for «real» negotiations.