A $5 billion demand to meet the cost of hosting American troops, and tensions between Seoul and Tokyo that threaten to undercut regional cooperation are set to top the agenda when senior U.S. defense officials visit South Korea this week, reports Trend referring to Reuters.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s insistence Seoul take on a greater share of the cost of American military presence as deterrence against North Korea has tested South Korea’s confidence in the security alliance with Washington.
Trump has floated the idea of pulling U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula, which remains in a technical state of war under a truce that suspended the 1950-53 Korean War.
A South Korean lawmaker said last week that U.S. officials demanded up to $5 billion a year, more than five times what Seoul agreed to pay this year under a one-year deal, for stationing the 28,500 U.S. troops.
U.S. officials have not publicly confirmed the number, but Trump has previously said the U.S. military presence in and around South Korea was “$5 billion worth of protection”.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joints Chief of Staff, said the American public needed an explanation why “very rich and wealthy” South Korea and Japan cannot defend themselves and why U.S. soldiers were deployed there.
Milley, who was speaking to reporters en route to Tokyo on Sunday, arrives in Seoul on Wednesday for the annual Military Committee Meeting.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will visit from Thursday for the Security Consultative Meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo.