Saturday, February 23, 2019 | ePaper

South Korea, US sign cost-sharing deal for American troops

  • Print


South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Timothy Betts, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State, shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreign Minist

AP, Seoul :

South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday that increases Seoul's contribution for the cost of the American military presence on its soil, overcoming previous failed negotiations that caused worries about their decades-long alliance.
South Korea last year provided about $830 million, covering roughly 40 percent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 U.S. soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea. President Donald Trump has pushed for South Korea to pay more.
On Sunday, chief negotiators from the two countries signed a new cost-sharing plan, which requires South Korea to pay about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement said the two countries reaffirmed the need for a "stable" U.S. military deployment amid the "rapidly changing situation on the Korean Peninsula." The ministry said the U.S. assured South Korea that it is committed to the alliance and has no plans to adjust the number of its troops in South Korea.
South Korea began paying for the U.S. military deployment in the early 1990s, after rebuilding its economy from the devastation of the 1950-1953 Korean War. The big U.S. military presence in South Korea is a symbol of the countries' alliance, forged in blood during the war, but also a source of long-running anti-American sentiments.
About 20 anti-U.S. activists rallied near the Foreign Ministry building in Seoul on Sunday, chanting slogans like "No more money for U.S. troops." No violence was reported.
"The United States government realizes that Korea does a lot for our alliance and peace and stability in the region," chief U.S. negotiator Timothy Betts said Sunday in Seoul. "We are very pleased our consultations resulted in agreement that will strengthen transparency and deepen our cooperation and the alliance."
The deal, which involves the spending of South Korean taxpayer money, requires parliamentary approval in South Korea, but not in the United States, according to Seoul's Foreign Ministry.
The allies had failed to reach a new cost-sharing plan during some 10 rounds of talks. A five-year 2014 deal that covered South Korea's payment last year expired at the end of 2018.
Some conservatives in South Korea voiced concerns over a weakening alliance with the United States at the same time as negotiations with North Korea to deprive it of its nuclear weapons hit a stalemate.
They said Trump might use the failed military cost-sharing negotiations as an excuse to pull back some U.S. troops in South Korea as a bargaining chip in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Feb. 3 that he has no plans to withdraw troops from South Korea. 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 U.S. soldiers deployed there.
South Korean media earlier reported that Trump demanded South Korea double its spending for the U.S. military deployment, before his government eventually asked for 1.13 trillion won ($1 billion). Seoul's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. had called for a sharp increase in South Korean spending but didn't elaborate.
Trump announced last week that he will sit down with Kim for a second summit in Vietnam in late February. Their first summit in Singapore last June resulted in Kim's vague commitment to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," a term that his propaganda machine previously used when it argued it would only denuclearize after the U.S. withdraws its troops from South Korea.
Trump's top envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, visited Pyongyang last week to work out details of the upcoming summit. After being briefed by Biegun about his Pyongyang trip, South Korea's presidential office said Sunday that U.S. and North Korean officials plan to meet again the week of Feb. 17 in an unidentified Asian country.
The U.S. military arrived in South Korea to disarm Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45, following its World War II defeat. Most U.S. troops were withdrawn in 1949 but they returned the next year to fight alongside South Korea in the Korean War..

More News For this Category

North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations ahead of summit

North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations ahead of summit

Reuters, United Nations :North Korea has warned that it is facing a food shortfall of some 1.4 million tons in 2019 and has been forced to almost halve rations,

200 US troops to remain in Syria after pullout: White House

200 US troops to remain in Syria after pullout: White House

PTI, Washington :The US military will keep around 200 troops in Syria after President Donald Trump's pullout from the war-torn country, the White House said on Thursday."A small peace-keeping

‘Extinct’ Galapagos tortoise found after 100 years

‘Extinct’ Galapagos tortoise found after 100 years

AFP, Washington :A living member of a species of giant tortoise long thought to be extinct has been discovered on the Galapagos island of Ferdinandina.The last known time a

Maduro starts shutting borders to block humanitarian aid

Maduro starts shutting borders to block humanitarian aid

Reuters, Caracas :Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro threatened to close the border with Colombia on Thursday as opposition leader Juan Guaido and some 80 lawmakers ran a gauntlet of roadblocks

News In Brief

Netanyahu-Putin to meet on WednesdayAFP, Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Russia on Wednesday for talks with President Vladimir Putin that had been scheduled for this week,

India's top court orders protection for Kashmiris

India's top court orders protection for Kashmiris

AFP, New Delhi :India's Supreme Court on Friday ordered bolstered protection for Kashmiris who have faced a violent backlash from a suicide bombing in the troubled territory that killed

News In Brief

Pak Provincial Assembly Speaker arrested AP, Islamabad  Pakistan's anti-corruption body says it has arrested the speaker of a provincial assembly and member of an opposition party headed by former President

Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis: Congressional report

AP, Washington :Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a

Palestinian President rejects tax money from Israel

Palestinian President rejects tax money from Israel

Reuters, Ramallah, West Bank :The Palestinian Authority (PA) will no longer accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel following its decision to trim the sum over the

Putin promises Russians better living conditions 'within this year'

Putin promises Russians better living conditions 'within this year'

AFP, Moscow  :President Vladimir Putin promised Russians rapid improvements in their living conditions as he delivered his annual state of the nation address Wednesday under pressure from falling approval