SEOUL Ė South Korea and the United States signed on Sunday a new cost-sharing agreement on the upkeep of US troops on the peninsula, according to which Seoul will have to pay 8.2 percent more than what it paid last year as shared defense cost.
The pact valid for only one year resolved major dispute between Washington and Seoul before US President Donald Trumpís meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi on Feb. 27-28.
The heads of South Korean and American delegations at the negotiations, Chang Won-sam and Timothy Betts, respectively, signed the agreement in Seoul after 10 rounds of negotiations for almost a year.
As per the new agreement South Korea will pay 1.03 trillion won ($915 million) for the current year as contribution towards the operations of the 28,500 US soldiers deployed in the Asian country.
However, the deal still needs to be ratified by the South Korean parliament.
Last year, South Korea paid 960,000 won to the US, bearing practically half of the operational costs of the United States Forces Korea (USFK).
The previous five-year bilateral agreement signed in 2014 expired at the end of 2018.
While South Korea had sought another agreement with a validity of three to five years, the US only accepted a one year deal.
This would result in both countries soon going back to table to negotiate the expenditure of the USFK for 2020.
President Trump has already cut back on spending on American troops deployed abroad, which was one of his election promises.
The US government has also been reviewing other such existing agreements with other allies.
Despite claims by the Trump administration, several critics in South Korea have underlined that Seoulís contribution in the upkeep of the forces should not be increased, arguing that the Asian country is one of the major buyers of US arms.
Since the 1990s, South Korea has gradually increased its contribution towards maintenance of US troops, deployed in the country since the end of the Korean War (1950-53), which the two countries fought together.
The armistice that brought an end to the fighting in 1953 was never replaced by a definitive peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically still at war.
Last year marked a rapprochement between the warring nations, beginning with North Koreaís participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Over the course of the next few months, several summits were held between the two Koreas and also one between North Korea and the United States that led to an agreement over the denuclearization of the North Korean regime.