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Home / World / Trump raises prices for US forces in Korea by almost 500%, while Seoul makes trouble

Trump raises prices for US forces in Korea by almost 500%, while Seoul makes trouble



Trump demands that South Korea pay about 500% more in 2020 to cover the costs of maintaining US troops on the peninsula.

The price hike has disappointed the Pentagon officials and the US government According to military officials and congressional assistants, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are deeply concerned. It has upset and upset Seoul, where leaders are questioning US commitment to their alliance and wondering if Trump will pull US forces out if they do not pay.

"Nothing says I love you like a shakedown," says Vipin Narang, associate professor at MIT, which follows the Korean Peninsula, summarizing South Korea's uncertainty over the US.

In the US, consultants to the congress and Korea Experts familiar with the talks said the US $ 4.7 billion demand had come out of nowhere. State and Defense officials have endeavored to justify the number with a series of new charges, including paying for Seoul. Some costs for US personnel on the peninsula and troops and equipment going mad.

Negotiations are under way as North Korean threats drive arms development and deepen Seoul's concerns. On Thursday, Pyongyang condemned joint military exercises between the US and South Korea and said they were "angry" and threatened to react with "force of nature."

According to Bruce Klingner, a senior Heritage Foundation official, North Korea has already fired 24 missiles this year, each in violation of UN resolutions. This is equivalent to the country's annual record so far for firing projectiles that threaten South Korea and Japan.

Germany, France and the United Kingdom recently condemned Pyongyang for launch, saying they undermined regional security and stability. The South Korean government leaders are aware that Trump has downplayed the launches and says he is "not at all" concerned about them.

"There are a lot of tough feelings," Klingner said of South Korea's views on the US, adding that "people question the viability of the US as an ally."

  North Korea fired 2 unidentified projectiles, South Korea says.

Scott Snyder, Director of the US Korea's policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations said the extreme nature of The Price Increase creates concern that Trump is using this as a pretext for the US troops' withdrawal.

"The main side effect I see is that he raises questions about the credibility of the United States as a protector and ally, "said Snyder," and that's not good for the relationship. "

The government official said that the US does many things to ensure South Korea's security, For decades, Korea was not recovering from the war, but now they are one of the world's leading economies, "the official said.

The Koreans have themselves declared that they want to eventually take over the security of Korea and "stand as a peer in the security area," said the official. Now "they have to make some basic investments to get where they want to go, and this is an opportunity for them." [194559002]

Shared responsibility

A foreign ministry spokesman, the negotiator said: "The cost of our global military presence is increasing is not a burden that should be imposed on the US taxpayer alone, but a responsibility that should be shared fairly with allies and partners who benefit from our presence. "

The Korean Embassy has not returned requests for comments.

The US-South Korea cost-sharing agreement has been in place for decades and was renegotiated every five years until Trump. During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump stated that if he did not receive 100% compensation for their presence, he would withdraw US troops from the peninsula.

Last year, when the agreement on special measures came to trial, Trump asked for 50% more from Seoul. Ultimately, the two sides agreed that South Korea would pay 8% of the previous year's costs, but the agreement would be renegotiated on an annual basis.

That year, Trump raised the price from about $ 1 billion to $ 5 billion before US Department of State and Pentagon officials convinced him to reduce it to $ 4.7 billion Congress Assistant and the administrative officer.

Esper, like other government officials, has refused to publicly acknowledge this number. He said only on Wednesday: "We have asked for a significant increase in the cost sharing for our troops deployed."

& # 39; A regression & # 39;

Klingner is one of several Korean experts who suspect that Trump pulled the figure out of thin air. Officers from the relevant agencies and consultants to the congress who are following Asia are similarly at a loss. "I have no idea where the president got that number from," said the congressional assistant.

"It seems pretty clear … that the state and DOD were working to justify the $ 5 billion figure … it is." not like, "We've developed a new concept that covers the following 17 categories, and that's what it's about." It was a backward process, "said the adjutant, expressing the shock that" the president wants $ 5 billion, and how do we justify that to the Koreans? They threw everything in, which allowed them to argue with a straight face that this covers the burden-sharing costs of the Alliance. "

To justify the price, state and Pentagon officials expanded the costs that Seoul would assume to include" readiness, "the adjutant said, adding that administrative officials would not confirm that Seoul is charged with joint military exercises, including rotational forces that are not always present on the peninsula, "so if we dropped bombers on the peninsula, I think we would bill them as an Uber driver," said the adjutant.

The US could also ask South Korea to "pay a whole range of staff costs for US personnel stationed on the peninsula," the adjutant said, and in response, the adjutant said, the Koreans asked, "You are now mercenaries? Is this a business agreement? ""

  Trump taps US Department of State No. 2 against North Korea

Military officials have told CNN they over The question is worrisome and worried The president's foreign policy decisions may be increasingly shaped by his concerns about the election campaign in 2020 or the pressure to resign.

The Congressional Adjutant said Pentagon officials are also uncomfortable on Capitol Hill. "The career professionals and the career military are outraged," said the adjutant, "but [Trump is] the commander-in-chief, so they're in a box."

"The Koreans are outraged," continued the adjutant, especially because elections are taking place in April and they do not think the cost increase in their National Assembly is justifiable.

The expert on foreign relations, Snyder, said historically: The formula for the cost sharing has risen by 5% to 10%, but "the gap between 5% and almost 500% … extends the limits of political plausibility."

One particular hurdle, according to Snyder, is any request that Seoul pay for assets "that can be used in the event of a conflict but are not located in Korea, which is the most sensitive issue when it comes to the Korean taxpayer. "

"Much concern"

Sen. Edward Markey, the leading Democrat in the Senate's Subcommittee on Foreign Relations on Asia, said he was "worried about President Trump's request … If South Korea decides that things will go better without the United States, President Trump will be over 60 -Eastern years of shared commitment to peace, stability and the rule of law – the region is less sure of countries losing confidence in US leadership. "

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the Republican chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Relations for Asia, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Neither the subordinate Republican in the Subcommittee, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, nor the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator James Risch of Idaho.

But behind closed doors, the Congress adjudicator repeated another colleague on Capitol Hill: "Up here, there is great concern among both Democratic and Republican staff, people … are not happy, they find that really dangerous."


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