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S. Korea, U.S. may announce defense costs deal on Wednesday if early Updated: 2020-04-01 10:08:49 KST

South Korea and the United States have not been able to agree on how to share costs to keep U.S. troops in South Korea.
But, we are getting reports that the allies have almost struck a deal and could announce it as early as today.
We have our foreign affairs correspondent Oh Jung-hee joining us on the line.
Jung-hee, a resolution to these months of talks may be on the horizon

As you've said, I'm hearing that Seoul could announce today that it has signed the Special Measures Agreement, or the SMA, with Washington for this year.
The SMA stipulates how much Seoul should pay to station U.S. forces here.
We will have to wait for the announcement, but it seems the deal is to be a five-year one this time.
The SMAs used to last for 2 to 5 years until 2018, but the one for 2019 was a one-year deal upon U.S. suggestion.
Seoul is expected to work on ratifying this year's SMA at the parliament by May 29th.

Some long awaited news?
We know that the allies have met 7 times to strike the deal but obviously it was a bumpy road.

Right, the reason why the negotiations have been so tough is because the two allies just couldn't see eye-to-eye on how much Seoul should pay to station U.S. troops.
The U.S. initially requested 5 billion U.S. dollars, but lowered that to 4 billion, which was still four-times more than what Seoul paid last year.
South Korea saw the amount as excessive and stuck to a roughly 10-percent increase from last year.
But that gap seems to have been narrowed down by a great extent, though we will have to wait and see for the specifics.
South Korean workers at U.S. bases here have been put on unpaid leave starting today, as U.S. had sent furlough notices to them because the two allies hadn't been able to sign the SMA.
But thanks to the recent developments, the workers are expected to return to work in the near future.
That's all I have for now, but I will be coming back for updates once there are some more developments.
Back to you, Mark.
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