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S. Korea, US sign deal on Seoul paying more for US military

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, right, and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris exchange documents at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, on March 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, Pool)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea and the United States on Friday signed a deal that would increase Seoul's financial contribution for the deployment of U.S. troops in the Asian country.

After rounds of failed negotiations, chief delegates from the two countries last month agreed on Seoul paying about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019 for the U.S. military presence, up from about $830 million last year.

President Donald Trump earlier pressured Seoul to increase its share, triggering worries in South Korea that he might withdraw some of the 28,500 U.S. troops here if Seoul refused to accept his demand.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris signed the new cost-sharing deal on Friday.

Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement the deal is expected to provide a "stable environment" for the U.S. troop deployment and help strengthen the alliance between the two countries.

The deal, which involves the spending of South Korean taxpayer money, requires parliamentary approval in South Korea, but not in the United States. The deal will likely easily pass through South Korea's parliament as the main conservative opposition party highly values a stronger alliance with the United States.

The deal's signing came days after the two countries eliminated their huge springtime military drills and replaced them with a smaller training to back diplomatic efforts to strip North Korea of its nuclear weapons. Many experts in South Korea said the moves would likely weaken the allies' military readiness in the event that the diplomacy fails and tensions with North Korea flares again.

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