South Korea-U.S. defense cost-sharing deal hasn't dispelled questions about transparencyUpdated: 2014-01-14 06:27:31 (KST)
Eight-hundred-and-sixty-six.six million U.S. dollars.
That is the amount South Korea will pay this year to keep the more than 28-thousand U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry says this was a successful deal, as Washington has settled on an amount that's 75 million dollars less than what it initially wanted -- despite automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that have slashed the military's budget.
But what's more worthy of notice, officials say, is that the U.S. agreed on specific measures to enhance transparency.
Washington had long been criticized by the South Korean public for not revealing how defense costs were spent.
A new monitoring system will be set up that will effectively track shared military expenditures and the two sides will be required to submit annual spending reports to the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, better known as KIDD.
The U.S. will also report defense cost outlays on the peninsula to the Korean parliament.
"We have made an effort to produce a reasonable outcome that's acceptable to the parliament and the people, taking into account the stationing conditions for the U.S. troops as well as our government's financial capacity."
But some are critical of the deal, saying it has left several long-standing issues unresolved.
They point out that Washington is not keeping its promise to shoulder the cost of relocating the main U.S. military base from Seoul to Pyeongtaek in 2016.
Instead, they seem to be amassing a large amount of money, and asking for more, but it's not clear how much has gone to the Pyeongtaek relocation.
The deal will be taken to the parliament in early February for ratification.
But amid such divided opinions, it looks like it won't necessarily be smooth sailing.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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