South Korea and the United States signed a new agreement Friday governing American forces in the country that increases Seoul's jurisdiction over criminal offenses committed by soldiers.

Foreign Minister Lee Sang-ock and U.S. Ambassador Donald Gregg signed the new Status of Forces Agreement and said in a joint statement "the new documents will cultivate a more stable environment for the stationing of U.S. forces in Korea."The new agreement recognizes South Korea's primary jurisdiction over criminal offenses while continuing to protect the basic rights of U.S. personnel, officials of the two sides said.

The pact will eliminate automatic waivers of South Korea's criminal jurisdiction over U.S. servicemen and jurisdictional decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, the officials said.