Officials signed a short-term agreement on Sunday to boost South Korea's contribution towards the upkeep of U.S. troops on the peninsula, after a previous deal lapsed amid U.S. President Donald Trump's call for the South to pay more.
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 U.S. troops stationed in the South to guard against threats from Pyongyang.
But South Korean officials yesterday told Yonhap news agency that the U.S. had affirmed it would not be changing its troop presence.
He added that Washington "realizes that South Korea does a lot for our alliance and for peace and stability in this region", as quoted by Reuters. "The SMA is only a small part of that".
Prior to the signing, Betts paid a courtesy visit to Kang on behalf of the U.S.to brief them of the details of the agreement.
The disagreement had raised the prospect that Mr Trump could decide to withdraw at least some troops from South Korea, as he has done in other countries like Syria. The U.S. originally asked Seoul to pay about $1 billion. "But it's an important part, and we are very pleased that our consultations resulted in an agreement", Betts said.
The comment by David Malpass, under secretary of the US Treasury for global affairs, came after Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, asked the World Bank to play a leading role in providing assistance for development of North Korea in case there is meaningful progress on denuclearisation.
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Their first summit in Singapore last June resulted in Kim's vague commitment to "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", a term that his propaganda machine previously used when it argued it would only denuclearise after the USA withdraws its troops from South Korea.
Many analysts expressed concern he may make a similar gesture in his upcoming talks with Kim. The United Nations Security Council, with minimal opposition from China, responded with strict sanctions on several of North Korea's largest industries, including coal and seafood.
A group of activists staged a rally Sunday in front of the foreign ministry building against the agreement, claiming that renegotiating the agreement would largely increase Seoul's burden. The North and its main backer, China, also would like to see the USA military presence removed from their doorstep.
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 US military.
The U.S. military also enjoys less tangible benefits, including rent-free land for its bases and an exemption that allows government-operated vehicles to use expressways toll-free.
Late a year ago, the US military had warned the South Korean employees on its bases that they may be put on leave from mid-April if no agreement was reached.
The allies had failed to reach a new cost-sharing plan during some 10 rounds of talks.