South Korea and the US completed the regulatory process needed for Seoul’s provision of a base site to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) missile defence system, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. A bilateral committee on the status of US Forces Korea (USFK) approved the plan for land transfer, allowing the US military to begin work for the deployment in the some 300,000 sq. metres land in Seongju county, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The land was formerly owned by a Lotte Group affiliate and used as a golf course. “After the process on the land provision for Thaad began on March 2 under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the South Korean Ministry of National Defence and the USFK filed for permission from the joint SOFA committee for the land transfer,” the ministry said.
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The SOFA is part of the South Korea-US defence treaty, which governs the status of the American forces stationed here. The approval will allow the USFK to expedite the deployment of the advanced missile shield system whose “first elements”, including two missile launchers, arrived in South Korea in March.
Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday reaffirmed in Seoul that the allies will complete the deployment within this year despite China’s relentless objections and retaliatory measures and the upcoming presidential election in South Korea.