Malaysia to settle its problem with North Korea, says Dr M | Malaysia

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig

Malaysia to settle its problem with North Korea, says Dr M | Malaysia

The Prime Minister said this when responding to a question whether Malaysia viewed the second summit between United States and North Korean leaders as a positive development to reopen its embassy in North Korea. The two are believed to be scheduled to discuss a path to denuclearizing North Korea and, thus, allowing for the formal end of the Korean War, technically ongoing since 1950.

Timothy Betts, the US State Department plenipotentiary who was present to sign the agreement on the United States' behalf, said the money was a small but important part of the relationship between the two countries.

South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday on how much Seoul should pay for the U.S. military presence on its soil, after previous rounds of failed negotiations caused worries about their decades-long alliance.

The allies had failed to reach a new cost-sharing plan during some 10 rounds of talks.

Seoul said Sunday it agreed to hike its payment for maintaining American troops on its soil, settling a dispute with its longtime ally ahead of a second summit between the United States and North Korea.

They said Trump might use the failed military cost-sharing negotiations as an excuse to pull back some of US troops in South Korea, as a bargaining chip in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Last month, a senior South Korean ruling party legislator said negotiations were deadlocked after the USA made a "sudden, unacceptable" demand that Seoul pay more than 1.4 trillion won ($1.2bn) per year.

The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Meari, which it described as "one of the North's propaganda outlets", insisted in a column Monday that Washington owes "corresponding practical action" to North Korea in exchange for "active and preemptive efforts" like not bombing Japan since 2017.

The disagreement had raised the prospect that Trump could decide to withdraw at least some troops from South Korea, as he has in other countries like Syria.

But both sides worked to hammer out a deal to minimise the impact of the lapse on South Korean workers on US military bases, and focus on nuclear talks ahead of a second US-North Korea summit, Seoul officials said. Although North Korea has made no official announcement about the summit so far, political experts are not seeing it in a negative light.

After last year's summit, Trump announced a halt to joint military exercises with South Korea, saying they were expensive and paid for mostly by the US.

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.

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