U.S., South Korea break off defense cost talks amid backlash over $5 billion demand
South Korean and U.S. officials broke off talks on Tuesday aimed at settling the cost burden for Seoul of hosting the U.S. military, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, amid a public backlash over a $5 billion U.S. demand for the bill, Trend with reference to Reuters reports.
The breakdown in talks was a sharp and rare public disagreement in the 66-year alliance, with each side suggesting the other was not prepared to come to a fair and reasonable compromise on sharing the costs for hosting 28,500 U.S. troops as a deterrent to North Korea.
“Our position is that it should be within the mutually acceptable Special Measures Agreement (SMA) framework that has been agreed upon by South Korea and the U.S. for the past 28 years,” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, referring to the cost-sharing deal’s official name.
“The U.S. believes that the share of defense spending should be increased significantly by creating a new category,” the ministry said in a statement.
The top U.S. negotiator, James DeHart, said the Americans cut short the talks to “give the Korean side some time to reconsider and I hope to put forward new proposals that would enable both sides to work toward a mutually acceptable agreement in the spirit of our great alliance.”
“Unfortunately, the proposals that were put forward by the Korean negotiating team were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden sharing,” DeHart told a briefing.
Negotiators left the table after only about one hour of discussions that were scheduled to continue throughout the day, South Korean media reported, citing unnamed foreign ministry officials.