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South Korea to contribute $867 million for U.S. military forces in 2014

A U.S. soldier participates in a decontamination training against possible chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats at Steel Z
A U.S. soldier participates in a decontamination training against possible chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats at Steel Z

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Sunday it had agreed to pay 920 billion won ($866.86 million) in 2014 towards the cost of the U.S. military presence in the country, a rise of 5.8 percent from a year ago.

U.S. and South Korean officials have struck a five-year cost sharing plan for 28,500 U.S. troops in the country after a series of negotiations since early last year.

The deal, subject to South Korean parliament's approval, comes after Washington's decision to send more soldiers and tanks to South Korea next month as part of a military rebalance to Asia after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The U.S. side had demanded a large-scale hike, considering U.S. Forces Korea's strengthened readiness due to serious security situation in the Korean peninsula and its budget situation, but the government put the utmost efforts and drew agreement to an extent to minimize our burden," South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Still technically at war with North Korea, Seoul has shouldered part of Washington's cost for stationing its troops since 1991, currently paying for about 40 percent of the cost.

($1 = 1061.3000 Korean won)

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael Perry)

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