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NEWS | Dec. 9, 2014

SOFA Joint Committee meets

Joint Press Release of the 194th US – ROK SOFA Joint Committee

1. Representatives of Republic of Korea and the United States of America held the 194th Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Joint Committee (ROK Representative: Director General Moon, Seung Hyun, MOFA, US Representative: Lieutenant General Jan-Marc Jouas, Deputy Commander of the USFK) meeting on the 9th of December (Tuesday). The agenda for the meeting was based on the agreement between the two countries after comprehensively reviewing issues from over 20 SOFA subcommittees and selecting the most important issues to support further improving the implementation of the SOFA. 

 ※ The 192th SOFA JC was held in December, 2013 (Yongsan Garrison), the 193th JC was held in June, 2014 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

2. Both sides highlighted the recent establishment of  a contact/cooperation system between MND and US forces that addresses noise-related civil complaints in a timely and efficient manner.  This cooperation is response to an increase in discontentment among local residents due to recent development in regions surrounding Korean and U.S. military bases. In particular, they are analyzing regions where noise complaints are more prevalent, with the aim to develop and implement various measures to reduce the inconvenience of local residents, such as possible establishment of joint working groups.

3. The ROK and the U.S. also assessed the progress of the ROK-US Environmental Joint Working Group (EJWG) that was launched in June, 2013, to address the oil contamination of areas adjacent to Yongsan Garrison. The two sides agreed to continue the visitation of  ROK environment experts to Yongsan Garrison to conduct on-site surveys to help identify a possible source of the contamination.  This continuing effort aims to better understand and resolve any concerns with any contamination emanating from U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan.    

 * EJWG:  Environmental Joint Working Group

4. Furthermore, the ROK representatives acknowledged that the crime rates for US military personnel have decreased considerably over the past years and commended the US military leaders for their efforts. However, ROK asked the US for continuous and proactive interest and efforts to combat sexual assault and drug related crimes.  The ROK side requested, and the US assured, vigilance of the U.S. leadership to prevent crimes during the upcoming holiday / New Year season. 

   o The U.S. Representative highlighted that the USFK has zero tolerance for any type of sexual assault crimes.  This was made evident by the recent USFK Commander announcement strictly prohibiting any actions which support prostitution and human trafficking, to include paying for ‘companionship.’  Furthermore, he reemphasized the US military’s commitment to deter and reduce all types of crimes working closely together with ROK.

5.  The ROK and U.S. also reviewed other areas where there have been recent efforts to engage in mutual cooperation. The ROK acknowledged that the recent global spread of Ebola virus is a grave concern of the world including the two countries, and commended the establishment of emergency cooperation system between the USFK and ROK government (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) to prepare for possible emergence of Ebola virus on the Korean peninsula. The two sides agreed to continue development of such cooperation.

 * Specifically, both sides agreed to mutually cooperate in sharing information and introducing vaccines/treatments against Ebola, as well as transferring and treating patients in case of Ebola emergence within the USFK.

o Also, the ROK and the U.S. agreed to cooperate in every possible way to identify the cause of the recent stray bullet incident as soon as possible. They also agreed to take appropriate measures to prevent similar accidents from occurring from either Korean or U.S. ranges in the future.

o Lastly, the ROK and the U.S. reiterated the fact that Korean USFK employees are indispensable resources for joint operations of the two nations. Considering the continuing concern among the Korean employees regarding potential layoffs in relation to Pyungtaek relocation, the two sides agreed to cooperate to minimize negative impact. 

6. Near the end, the ROK Representative delivered an appreciation plaque signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to thank the U.S. Representative (Lieutenant General Jouas), who is scheduled to retire from his post after this meeting, for his hard work to improving SOFA operations for the past three years. The end.

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