Home News South Korea Will Pay Extra for U.S. Troop Presence

South Korea Will Pay Extra for U.S. Troop Presence

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea mentioned on Wednesday that it had agreed to extend its share in masking the price of the American army presence by 13.9 % this yr, eradicating a chronic dispute within the alliance forward of a joint go to by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III.

Differences over how to share the cost of maintaining 28,500 American troops in South Korea have stored the allies at odds for years. The problem turned notably contentious underneath former President Donald J. Trump, who demanded that South Korea drastically enhance its funds — by as much as 5 occasions, based on some studies. At the same time as he warmed to North Korea’s chief, Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump usually accused South Korea of freeloading on American army energy.

Negotiations dragged on for a yr and a half, however started making progress after President Biden took workplace and vowed to revive alliances all over the world.

Over the weekend, the US and South Korea agreed to a five-year deal to extend the army funds, topic to legislative approval in each capitals. Beneath the settlement, South Korea pays $1 billion this yr, 13.9 % greater than its annual funds in 2019 and 2020, officers mentioned on Wednesday. From subsequent yr via 2025, South Korea will enhance its portion yearly on the identical price it boosts its protection funds — at a median of 6.1 % per yr till 2025.

“By easily addressing the important thing pending alliance challenge early on after the launch of the Biden administration, South Korea and the US demonstrated the robustness of the agency alliance,” the South Korean International Ministry mentioned in a press release on Wednesday.

Because the 1950-53 Korean Battle, South Koreans have thought-about the American army presence an integral a part of their protection in opposition to North Korea. However Mr. Trump’s demand for a drastic enhance unnerved many, elevating questions on Washington’s dedication to defend its ally.

North Korea has lengthy campaigned for the American troops’ withdrawal, arguing that the risk they posed, together with their joint struggle video games with the South Korean army, had compelled it to develop nuclear weapons.

Mr. Trump met North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, thrice to attempt to finish the North’s nuclear weapons program, whereas the allies suspended or scaled down their joint army drills to assist the diplomacy. Mr. Trump shocked many in South Korea, particularly conservatives, by calling such workout routines on the Korean Peninsula “tremendously costly” and “very provocative.”

Mr. Trump’s diplomacy with Mr. Kim collapsed with out an arms management take care of North Korea, whose nuclear and missile capabilities grew throughout Mr. Trump’s time period. Nonetheless, the US and South Korea significantly lowered the size of this yr’s annual springtime army train, which started on Monday, conducting it as a pc simulation with none giant motion of troops. South Korea mentioned that the drill was minimized this yr due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a need to maintain diplomatic momentum with North Korea alive.

The right way to convey North Korea again to the negotiating desk might be a key matter when Mr. Blinken and Mr. Austin go to South Korea subsequent Wednesday and Thursday, assembly President Moon Jae-in and different senior South Korean officers. North Korea has but to react to their deliberate go to or the joint army drill by Washington and Seoul.

Mr. Blinken’s journey, which can embrace a go to in Tokyo earlier than going to Seoul, was “to reaffirm the US’ dedication to strengthening our alliances and to focus on cooperation that promotes peace, safety, and prosperity within the Indo-Pacific area and all over the world,” the State Division mentioned in a press release.

Mr. Moon, the South Korean president, has harassed the significance of the alliance with Washington whereas attempting to keep up his nation’s strong commerce ties with China.

He’s additionally an ardent champion of diplomacy with North Korea and helped organize the summit conferences between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim. He says {that a} breakthrough in denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang would spawn a political détente on the Korean Peninsula and assist understand his dream of accelerating financial ties between the 2 Koreas.

Mr. Moon’s authorities hopes that the Biden administration will comply with up on the diplomacy began by Mr. Trump relatively than going again to former President Obama’s coverage of “strategic persistence,” which targeted on squeezing North Korea with sanctions.

After his diplomacy with Mr. Trump didn’t carry sanctions in opposition to his nation, Mr. Kim vowed to further advance his nation’s nuclear capabilities, declaring that it could construct new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles and make its nuclear warheads lighter and extra exact.