S. Korea to contribute $1b for US military forces in 2014

SEOUL - South Korea said on Sunday it had agreed to pay 920 billion won (S$1.09 billion) in 2014 towards the cost of the US military presence in the country, a rise of 5.8 per cent from a year ago.

US and South Korean officials have struck a five-year cost sharing plan for 28,500 US troops in the country after a series of negotiations since early last year.

The deal, subject to South Korean parliament's approval, comes after Washington's decision to send more soldiers and tanks to South Korea next month as part of a military rebalance to Asia after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The US side had demanded a large-scale hike, considering US Forces Korea's strengthened readiness due to serious security situation in the Korean peninsula and its budget situation, but the government put the utmost efforts and drew agreement to an extent to minimise our burden," South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Still technically at war with North Korea, Seoul has shouldered part of Washington's cost for stationing its troops since 1991, currently paying for about 40 per cent of the cost.

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