Anchor: U.S. President Donald Trump claims that defense cost-sharing negotiations have already begun with South Korea. Calling South Korea a "very wealthy nation," he said that South Korea agreed to pay substantially more money to the U.S., but Seoul quickly responded that no such talks have begun.
Celina Yoon has more.
Report: U.S. President Donald Trump says that talks have started with South Korea to further increase its defense cost payments to the U.S.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Trump claimed that South Korea “feels an obligation” to contribute to costs associated with stationing U.S. troops on the peninsula, adding that the relationship between the two countries “is a very good one.”
Trump also said that South Korea has agreed to pay “substantially more money” to the U.S. in order to defend itself from North Korea.
He claimed that the U.S. has been “paid very little” by South Korea over the past decades, but that South Korea paid 990-million dollars last year at his request.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry, however, denied that official negotiations have begun for the eleventh Special Measures Agreement(SMA), the bilateral deal that determines South Korea’s bilateral defense contributions.
The tweets are thus regarded as a sign that the U.S. may pressure South Korea to substantially increase its share.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is visiting Seoul on Friday for the first time as Washington's defense chief, and is likely to discuss the defense-cost sharing deal with top officials in Seoul, including Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo.
At his Senate confirmation hearing last month, Esper noted that Trump has continuously called on “rich” allies to contribute more for the U.S. troops stationed in their countries.
South Korea and the U.S. signed the tenth SMA in March, in which Seoul agreed to pay one-point-04 trillion won this year for hosting the U.S. troops, an eight-point-two percent increase from the previous agreement.
Official negotiations are expected to start in the near future, as the current SMA expires December 31.
Celina Yoon, KBS World Radio News.