S. Korea, U.S. meet over funds from Seoul
Stars and Stripes June 7, 2007
SEOUL — South Korean and U.S. officials Tuesday discussed how to spend the money the host country pays to keep American troops stationed here.
South Korean officials have said they want to have more say in how their contribution to the U.S. presence is spent, according to the Korea Herald.
The talks come several months after U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell said South Korea isn’t contributing enough money, which could hurt his forces’ fighting ability.
South Korean officials attending the meeting were unavailable for comment Tuesday.
U.S. Forces Korea officials said they could not comment on the meeting because it was a State Department matter. U.S. Embassy officials in Seoul said they could not comment because the talks were being handled by the Defense Department.
Robert Loftis, a senior adviser at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs, headed the U.S. team, and Cho Byung-je, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau, headed the South Korean team.
Last December, South Korea agreed to increase its payment to the U.S. from $740 million in 2006 to $789 million in 2007, according to The Associated Press.
Bell released a statement of “concern” about the cost-sharing plan after that announcement.
His statement said the plan would pay for less than 41 percent of USFK’s nonpersonnel stationing costs and less than 15 percent of the total U.S. annual expenditure to maintain U.S. troops on the peninsula.
That meant USFK could face “serious funding shortfalls in 2007,” according to the statement.
The command planned to study the situation “and make appropriate recommendations to the U.S. Government regarding necessary actions to adjust to this funding shortfall, while maintaining its unwavering commitment to the Alliance and the defense of Korea,” the statement said.
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