SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea and the United States have reached a new deal on Sunday by raising the share of Seoul's contribution to the cost of the US military presence on its soil over concerns over the decade-long alliance.
South Korea provided about $ 830 million last year, about 40 percent of the cost of deploying 28,500 US troops whose presence is expected to prevent North Korea's aggression. President Donald Trump has said South Korea should pay more.
On Sunday, the negotiators of the two countries signed a new cost sharing plan, which requires South Korea to pay around 1.04 trillion won (US $ 924 million) in 2019, Seoul's Foreign Ministry. The ministry said in a statement.
It said the two countries reaffirmed the need for a "stable" US military operation in the midst of a "rapidly changing situation on the Korean peninsula". The ministry said the US has assured South Korea that it has a solid security commitment for its ally, and that it is not intended to readjust its size in South Korea.
"We know that the United States Government recognizes this Korea is doing a lot for our Alliance and for peace and stability in the region," said American negotiator Timothy Betts in Seoul. "We are very pleased that our consultations have led to an agreement that will enhance transparency and deepen our cooperation and the Alliance."
The allies had not reached a new cost-sharing plan in about ten rounds of talks. A five-year 2014 agreement covering South Korea's payments last year expired at the end of 2018.
Some conservatives in South Korea expressed concern about a dwindling alliance with the United States, while negotiations with North Korea had led to a stalemate of its nuclear weapons. They said Trump could use the failed military cost-sharing negotiations as an excuse to recall some US troops to South Korea as a negotiator in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump told CBS: "Face the Nation" last Sunday that he has no plans to pull troops out of South Korea. During his election campaign, Trump suggested he could withdraw troops from South Korea and Japan if they did not have to support the US troops with bigger financial burdens.
South Korea's media reported that Trump had doubled South Korea's US military spending before his government finally asked for 1.13 trillion won (US $ 1 billion). The Seoul Foreign Ministry said the US has called for a significant increase in payments for South Korea but has not elaborated on it.
Trump announced last week that he would team with Kim for a second summit in late February in Hanoi, Vietnam. Its first summit in Singapore in June last year led to Kim indefinitely opting for the "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," a term his propaganda machine once used when claiming it would only denuclearize after the US withdrew its troops South Korea had deducted.
The US military arrived in South Korea to disarm Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 after World Cup defeat. Most US troops were withdrawn in 1949, but returned the next year to fight in the Korean War in 1950/53 on the side of South Korea.
South Korea paid for the US military deployment in the early 1990s following the rebuilding of its war-torn economy. The large US military presence in South Korea is a symbol of the alliance of countries forged in blood during the war, but also a source of long-lasting anti-American sentiment.
About 20 anti-US. On Sunday, activists gathered in Seoul near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and shouted slogans like "No more money for US troops." No violence was reported.
Associated Press journalists Chang Yong Jun and Lee Jin-man contributed to the report.