“The two sides broadened their mutual understanding and consensus but confirmed that there are still differences between them,” the ministry said in a statement Thursday without mentioning what the differences were.
“In the latest meeting, our side maintained the basic position that negotiations should be within the framework of the Special Measures Agreement and that a reasonable and fair agreement must be drawn.”
Seoul and Washington agreed to continue close consultations to minimize effects from the absence of the cost-sharing deal, known as the SMA, and to contribute to their alliance and combined defense posture by reaching an agreement soon, the ministry added.
The previous SMA expired at the end of last year.
The two sides held their sixth round of talks for the 11th SMA on Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington. The schedule of the seventh round will be discussed later.
Korea’s chief negotiator Jeong Eun-bo said Monday that the two sides were trying very hard to come up with a creative solution.
“We believe we should be given due credit for the contributions we are already making as an ally,” he added.
The US has demanded a significant increase in the contribution from Korea. It is reportedly seeking to add new cost categories to the SMA, such as expenses for rotational troop deployments to the peninsula.
Korea maintains that negotiations must proceed under the current SMA framework, under which it pays for the wages of Korean civilians employed by the US forces, the construction of military facilities and logistical support.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)