Delegations from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States met Oct. 17-18 at the Pentagon in Washington for negotiation to revise the U.S.-ROK Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Song Min-soon, director general of the North American Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT), led the ROK delegation, which included representatives of the relevant ministries. Frederick C. Smith, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Asia-Pacific affairs, led the U.S. delegation, which included representatives from the Department of Defense and the Department of State.
Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the ROK-US security alliance and the need to revise the SOFA as soon as possible to reinforce that alliance.
There was significant progress on the issue of criminal custody and associated legal assurances. Although there are a number of areas that still need to be resolved, the two delegations have built a working draft that includes a number of areas of agreement.
The two delegations have also had useful and substantial discussions on other significant issues such as the environment; use of facilities and areas by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK); quarantine of animals and plants; working conditions for Korean employees of USFK; control of Korean nationals' access to USFK's non-appropriated fund facilities; civil proceedings; and, the scope of persons accorded status under SOFA.
Both sides agreed to hold the next round of talks in November.