Following the instructions of Donald Trump, the United States is exerting strong pressure on South Korea, demanding an increase in Seoul’s expenses for the maintenance of the American contingent in Korea by 50 percent. In addition, Washington wants to revise the agreement on the share of these costs every year to be able to force constantly the ally to fork out.
Seoul is categorically unwilling to accept the terms of the United States. Ten rounds of negotiations on this issue have been concluded to no avail. This is with reference to sources in the diplomatic circles of South Korea, South Korean media reported. Recall that in the territory of the Republic of Korea there is an American military contingent with a total number of about 28,500 people. Korea on a gratuitous basis provides the Americans with the territory of location the troops.
The allies pay the costs of supporting the activities of the US contingent jointly, regularly reviewing specific amounts. In General, the trend is that Seoul is gradually paying an increasing share of the total cost of the stay of the US troops, while the share of Americans is declining. As noted by several publications of South Korea, citing an anonymous “source in diplomatic circles”, during the December 11-13 the US-Korean negotiations on the payment of the stay of the US contingent in Korea, representatives of the United States demanded a sharp increase in the Korean share.
The source claims that the US demanded an increase in Korean spending “by about 50 percent”, increasing the amount to 1 trillion 300 billion won (about $ 1,700 million). It should be noted that at the moment Korea pays 960 billion 200 million won (about $ 860 million) per year. This represents approximately 42 percent of all funds needed to secure the location of the US military. The remaining 58 percent is paid by Washington. In addition, the representatives of the United States, referring to the instruction of President Donald Trump, demanded that on the share of expenses should be agreed not every five years, as it was until now, but annually.
As recognized in Seoul, all these requirements are extremely disadvantageous for South Korea. In case of consent to accept the terms of the “main ally” Koreans to pay much more. The USA will also have the opportunity to promote Korean share in the total budget for the maintenance of the contingent every year. In the negotiations, South Korea rejected these demands and the parties were unable to agree on a date for the next consultations. So far, ten rounds of dialogue on the cost of the United States contingent have been inconclusive. Seoul recognizes that the problem must be solved, the US troops they need to contain the threat of North Korea, but do not want to pay so much.
However, the Koreans understand that all this is only part of the overall line of Trump, who intends, as he has repeatedly stressed, to achieve from the allies that they “fork out” for American protection. Otherwise, the American leader came to threats to reduce the presence of us troops, and this in Seoul do not want to allow. In general, the South Korean government agrees to pay a little more, but is unwilling to accept such a drastic increase. In Seoul, almost all influential political parties note that they need the US troops.
On the other hand, a number of Korean experts point out that the cost of renting the land on which the US military facilities are located should also be taken into account, but they do not pay for it. If we take this into account, it turns out that the share of Seoul in the budget of the US contingent will exceed 70 percent. At the same time, there is a high probability that the South Korean government intentionally leaked the content of the US demands to the press in order to mobilize public opinion and put pressure on the Americans. When it comes to discussing payment amounts under various projects, Koreans have repeatedly shown themselves to be very unyielding negotiators, fighting for every won and regularly resorted to a variety of tricks to get the desired result.