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article imageOp-Ed: US demands more cost-sharing money from South Korea for US troops

By Ken Hanly     Apr 22, 2020 in Politics
US has for months been demanding that South Korea pay a huge percentage of the cost of keeping US troops in the country. However, the issue still remains unresolved.
Trump rejects South Korean offer
Trump reported that South Korea had offered a certain amount of money but he rejected it. Trump did not specify how much South Korea had offered nor did he say how many billions the US was asking for at this point.South Korea was already paying one of the largest percentages in cost-sharing of any country but the US has kept raising its demands with the result that South Korea has so far been unwilling to agree to US terms. It seems to some that the US is going out of its way not to make a deal.
US officials are reported to have said to Reuters earlier this month that South Korea had offered a 13 percent increase from the present arrangements but that the offer was rejected.
Trump said: "We're defending a wonderful nation. We're asking them to pay for a big percentage of what we're doing. It's not fair. ... It's a question of will they contribute toward the defence of their own nation. We're doing a tremendous service. We have a wonderful feeling and a wonderful relationship with each other, but we have to be treated equitably and fairly."
Trump said that Seoul was at present paying about a billion dollars per year towards the cost of keeping between 28,000 and 32,000 US troops in the country.
US may be considering troop cuts in South Korea
South Korean press reports claim that the US is considering various proposals to reduce troop numbers in South Korea. This would be due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also because the US is not going to get the payments they want to keep troops there.
A spokesperson for US Forces Korea told a representative of the Voice of America that they are not aware of any discussions of a US troop drawdown in South Korea.
There are regular rumors of US plans to withdraw troops from Korea. Last year when Trump was asked about withdrawing troops from Korea he said: “No, no, and we haven’t been asked to. Now, I have to tell you, at some point in the future, I would like to save the money. You know, we have 32,000 troops there.”
The US has numerous bases spread throughout the world. Upkeep costs US taxpayers $156 billion per year. As election fever heats up Trump could be considering the merits of saving the US taxpayer some money and forcing countries where the US has troops to pay more of upkeep costs. The US is apparently planning to ask Germany and Japan for more money as well but these plans may be put on hold as US demands are not going over at all well in South Korea.
If the US is too demanding the US may be forced to withdraw troops with the result that countries may demand that they pay even less. The US troop costs will loom large in South Korean elections and it may be that South Koreans will demand that at least some troops be withdrawn so that there is less of a burden on the South Korean taxpayer.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US South Korea relations, Cost of US troops in South Korea, Donald trump
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