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US military may put S. Korean workers ‘on leave’ amid prolonged Seoul talks

US military may put S. Korean workers ‘on leave’ amid prolonged Seoul talks

The US military said it has begun notifying nearly 9,000 South Korean workers that they will be put on leave starting from April if Seoul and Washington fail to reach a deal on sharing costs for the upkeep of 28,500 US soldiers in the country.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said Seoul should bear more of the burden for hosting the troops. The two sides have held six rounds of talks but have been unable to reach an agreement due to differences over Washington’s demand for a sharp hike in Seoul’s contribution for this year.

The current agreement expired at the end of 2019, but the US military was using “residual funds” in efforts to minimize the impact on workers, Reuters quoted US Ambassador Harry Harris as saying.

The US Forces in Korea said it began to send “furlough letters” to employees on Tuesday in line with US law requiring 60 days notice.