ANKARA

The US and South Korea have reached a consensus on a new six-year cost-sharing agreement for the presence of American troops on the Korean Peninsula, an official said on Tuesday.

The proposed text of the Special Measures Agreement that is expected to “strengthen our alliance and our shared defense” was agreed in a meeting on March 6, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said at a news briefing.

“The US and the Republic of Korea together, we’re now pushing the final steps needed to conclude the agreement for signature and for entry into force,” he said.

The official did not share any details of the proposed agreement.

“I would say that the South Koreans are our allies, so in the context of a relationship with a close ally, with a treaty ally like the South Koreans, I don’t think the US would make demands,” Price said in a reply to a question on whether the new US administration took a “less strict and less harsh” stance in the negotiations than the previous government.

“And certainly, I don’t think that would help to strengthen the underlying alliance. We have engaged in good faith, constructive negotiations. I think you’ll be hearing more about them. And I imagine the details of this, you will soon learn, to be an agreement that benefits both sides.”

There are currently some 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea, and the two countries usually renew the deal every five years.

However, there has been a deadlock on the issue of burden-sharing since the 10th agreement expired in 2019.

Negotiators agreed on a 13% increase in Seoul’s contribution but it was rejected by then-President Donald Trump, who had initially demanded Seoul pay $5 billion a year, up more than five times the $870 million Seoul paid in 2019, according to Yonhap News Agency.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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