Malaysia to settle its problem with North Korea, says Dr M | Malaysia

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig

The two countries have been in a security alliance since the 1950-53 Korean war, which ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty - with more than 28,000 United States troops stationed in the South to guard against threats from Pyongyang.

The new deal must still be approved by South Korea's parliament, but it would boost its contribution to 1.03 trillion won (687.68 million pounds) from 960 billion won in 2018.

South Korea has signed a new deal with the United States on how much Seoul should pay for the U.S. military presence on its soil after a previous deal lapsed amid President Donald Trump's call for Seoul to pay more.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the "very long" process of negotiating was "ultimately a very successful" one, adding that the response to the deal from other South Koreans had been "positive so far", Reuters reports.

"The two countries reaffirmed. the importance of a strong South Korea-US alliance and the need for a stable stationing of the US troops", it said in a statement issued after a signing ceremony.

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The allies also missed the December 31 deadline in 2013, but they managed to reach a deal a few weeks later when South Korea agreed to increase its contribution by 5.8 percent, with a 4-percent cap on the inflation rate.

South Korean officials have said they had sought to limit its burden to 1 trillion won ($889.7m) and make the accord valid for at least three years.

A senior South Korean ruling party legislator said last month that negotiations were deadlocked after the United States made a "sudden, unacceptable" demand that Seoul pay more than 1.4 trillion won per year.

The nationwide survey of 501 South Koreans found about 62.5 percent of respondents optimistic about the prospects for settling "the North Korean nuclear problem", while 35.2 percent said the summit would weaken the U.S. But a foreign ministry official in Seoul said the deal could be extended if the two sides agree.

South Korea has agreed to substantially increase its contribution to cover the cost of keeping USA troops in that country.

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But South Korean officials yesterday told Yonhap news agency that the USA had affirmed it would not be changing its troop presence.

During his State of the Union address on February 5, President Donald Trump announced his second summit with Kim will be held in Vietnam on February 27-28.

That led to a declaration by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang in September previous year that the two Koreas will push to host the 2032 Summer Olympics together.

The approximately 8 percent increase in payments by South Korea to the United States is likely to check one of the boxes on US President Donald Trump's "to do" list.

Timothy Betts, US State Department senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements, met Kang before signing the agreement and told reporters the money represented a small but important part of South Korea's support for the alliance. After the meeting, Trump suspended major joint military exercises with South Korea.

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About 70 percent of South Korea's payment funds the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean workers who provide administrative, technical, and other services for the USA military.

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