Thu, Oct 12, 2006 - Page 5 News List

North Korea: US, S Korea fail to reach troop accord

PAYING MORE More than 29,000 of the Pentagon's troops back up Seoul's forces, but little headway has been made in deciding which side will fund them

AFP , SEOUL

The US and South Korea yesterday failed to agree on how to split the cost of stationing US troops in the country amid rising regional tensions over North Korea's nuclear test.

"There has been almost no progress," a South Korean negotiator told the Yonhap news agency at the end of a two-day meeting, the fourth this year.

"The two sides will set a schedule later for the next round," he said.

The US has 29,500 troops in the country, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War between US-led UN forces and northern communist troops that were backed by China.

No peace treaty was signed at the end of the conflict with North Korea, an isolated and impoverished regime that shocked the world on Monday by saying it had conducted an underground nuclear test.

In their negotiations on financing the US troop presence, both Washington and Seoul have argued that the other side should pay more.

The US claims a South Korean offer of US$710 million per year constitutes just 38 percent of the total.

South Korea says it already pays over 40 percent when costs such as land leases and supplying South Korean troops to the US deployment are factored in.

"We will continue our efforts to end the negotiations within this year," the South Korean diplomat told the Yonhap news agency.

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