Photo:Xinhua

Negotiators from South Korea and the United States will hold talks next week in Seoul to share the upkeep cost for the US Forces Korea (USFK), Seoul’s foreign ministry said Friday.

The third round of negotiation for the 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA), a South Korea-US accord to share defense cost for about 28,500 US troops stationed here, was scheduled to be held in Seoul from Nov. 18-19.

The first and second rounds of talks were held in Seoul in September and in Honolulu, Hawaii in October each.

The ministry said South Korea will closely consult with the US side under the basic principle of sharing the defense cost at a fair, reasonable level.

The 10th SMA, which was reached in March, was set to expire by the end of this year. Under the 10th SMA, South Korea paid 1.04 trillion won (about 890 million US dollars) this year for the stationing of US troops here, up 8.2 percent from last year.

Following the annual defense ministers’ talks with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo in Seoul earlier in the day, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told a press conference that South Korea should pay more for the defense cost as South Korea is a wealthy country.

Jeong said the upkeep cost-sharing should be decided upon at a fair, mutually agreeable level.

Since 1991, South Korea has shared the upkeep cost for US forces here, including costs for South Korean civilians hired by the US Forces Korea, for the construction of military facilities and for the logistics support.