|Home page World|
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says South Korea “is a wealthy country” and should pay more for the cost of stationing some 28,500 US troops in the East Asian nation.
Axar.az reports citing foreign media.
Speaking in Seoul after a high-level meeting on Friday with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, Esper said the two countries have to be flexible with their joint military drills to support diplomatic efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear program.
“It is crucial that we conclude the (defense pact) ... with increased burden sharing by the Republic of Korea before the end of the year,” the Pentagon chief told a news conference.
Jeong said he and Esper agreed that the cost-sharing pact being negotiated should be fair, but it was unclear if they shared any sense of what a fair amount might be.
A South Korean lawmaker said last week that US officials demanded up to $5 billion a year, more than five times what Seoul agreed to pay this year under a one-year deal.
US President Donald Trump has long accused Washington’s wealthy allies like Germany and South Korea of taking US security guarantees for granted and says they need to spend much more on their own military.
Trump has rattled South Korea with his insistence it take on a greater contribution for the deterrence against North Korea.
A survey by the Korea Institute for National Unification released last week showed 96 percent of South Koreans were against paying more for the US military presence.
North Korea said in a commentary from state media KCNA on Friday that the US demand for a greater South Korean contribution to defense costs was an “attempt to plunder others” and strengthen its military dominance in the region.
2019.11.15 / 14:42