Kang, Abrams to discuss pending security affairs in Korea

19-Sep-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha will meet with United States Forces Korea (USFK) commander Robert Abrams, Friday, at the new USFK headquarters in Camp Humphreys, to discuss pending security affairs here.

Kang’s visit to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, located about 70 kilometers south of Seoul, is the first since 2017. The visit to the US military base comes at a crucial time when the allies are on the verge of starting their defense cost-sharing negotiations, known as the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

Both sides are in the final stages of designating their delegations before starting the talks on the upkeep of the USFK.

The foreign ministry declined to provide details of the discussion between Kang and Abrams on the sidelines of their visit, there. Chances are that she will likely reiterate the South’s general position of seeking to sign a “reasonable and fair” deal for the 2020 SMA.

The foreign ministry, which handles the defense cost-sharing talks, is facing growing pressure before the beginning of the talks, with US President Donald Trump saying in recent months that he wants to shift more of the burden to the South in the 2020 SMA.

“The (2020 SMA) will be much more difficult for us to handle considering the atmosphere surrounding the negotiations and a series of reports from the US,” Kang told lawmakers Wednesday in a National Assembly meeting in Seoul. “We are forming a negotiating team through discussions with other agencies, such as the Ministry of National Defense and the presidential National Security Office,” she said.

Seoul and Washington are expected to announce their delegations sometime before the end of the month.

South Korea agreed to pay 1.04 trillion won ($872 million) for the 2019 SMA, up 8.2 percent from a year ago. But the view is that Washington will demand a whopping increase for the 2020 SMA. Reports said Washington has recently stepped up pressure on Seoul to pay much more by citing a document with detailed cost categories for the USFK upkeep and others for defending South Korea from North Korea’s security threats.

Aside from the SMA, Kang and Abrams are also expected to discuss other bilateral security matters, such as the earlier transfer of wartime operational control of Korean troops from Washington to Seoul. Last month, the South Korean government asked Washington to return 26 USFK bases here to it.



Category: Korea

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