South Korea Meets Trump’s Demand to Pay More for U.S. Troops

12 February, 2019, 06:01 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Kang Kyung-wha South Korean Foreign Minister, says negotiations for new deal'long but successful

South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday on how much Seoul should pay for the USA military presence on its soil, official said, after previous rounds of failed negotiations caused worries about their decades-long alliance. But with US President Donald Trump calling for his allies to pay an increased share of their defense costs, South Korea was under pressure to pay almost double the current amount, equivalent to nearly $1.4 billion a year.

"Against the backdrop of large-scale agreements like the complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula, new relations between North Korea and the US, and establishing peace on the Peninsula, I anticipate the upcoming summit will be a major turning point in making progress on a more detailed and tangible outcome".

Unlike past agreements, which lasted for five years, this one is scheduled to expire in a year, potentially forcing both sides back to the bargaining table within months.

"The United States government realizes that Korea does a lot for our alliance and for peace and stability in this region", Betts said. That's 8.two percent more than Seoul contributed last year, reflecting a rise in South Korea's defense budget this year. Washington's top negotiator, Betts, also met with South Korea's Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha, before signing the agreement.

South Korea began paying for the USA military deployment in the early 1990s, after rebuilding its war-devastated economy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in plans to discuss the upcoming summit with Trump soon, according to a spokesman from the Blue House.

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South Korea's officials have said they had sought to limit its burden to 1 trillion won and make the accord valid for at least three years. "We are very pleased our consultations resulted in agreement that will strengthen transparency and deepen our cooperation and the alliance".

South Korea resisted increased spending but was concerned President Trump might put US troop withdrawal on the table, or offer to scale back joint military exercises with the South even further, when he meets with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Vietnam later this month - especially if the second Trump-Kim summit paves the way for a formal declaration of peace in the Korean War. During his election campaign, Trump suggested he could pull back troops from South Korea and Japan unless they took on greater a share of the financial burdens of supporting USA soldiers deployed there.

South Korea on Sunday signed a provisional deal to raise its contribution for USA troops in the nation by 8.2 percent.

Trump announced last week that he will sit down with Kim for a second summit in Vietnam in late February. The North and its main backer, China, also would like to see the US military presence removed from their doorstep.

Services had not been interrupted thanks to reserve funds, but USFK had warned the Korean Employees' Union that it would have to put local staff on unpaid leave beginning in mid-April if a deal wasn't reached. US Reps. Grace Meng and Norma Torres wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, saying the one-year deal did not sufficiently reflect the importance of the US alliance with South Korea.

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