National Assembly ratifies Special Measures AgreementUpdated: 2014-04-17 06:30:56 (KST)
The ruling and opposition parties came together to pass a number of long-pending bills this Wednesday at the National Assembly.
After months of gridlock, lawmakers passed the revised defense cost-sharing pact with the U.S.
Seoul and Washington had agreed in January to renew the Special Measures Agreement that lays out the costs each side pays for the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed on South Korean soil.
"Under the deal, South Korea will pay some 880 million U.S. dollars annually from this year through 2018, a 5.8 percent increase from its share last year. Approval of the pact was delayed over concerns that it requires Seoul to pay more than is necessary."
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy had expressed the most concern, wondering aloud whether Washington would divert some of Seoul's share of the money to finance the relocation of a U.S. military base in the country.
The ratified bill will go into effect after being signed by President Park Geun-hye.
Over in Washington, South Korea and the U.S. opened a high-level military meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday local time, with North Korea and pending alliance issues topping the agenda.
The two-day Integrated Defense Dialogue began with Seoul requesting for another delay in the transfer of wartime operational control from the U.S. to South Korea.
Seoul is currently scheduled to regain wartime operational control in 2015, but the government says the nation's military needs more time to prepare for the transfer.
The two sides have reportedly agreed in principle on a delay due to the ongoing threat posed by North Korea but the exact timing and other details are still being ironed out.
The two allies will sit down with Japan for Defense Trilateral Talks starting Thursday.
Ji Myung-kil, Arirang News.
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