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article imageUS wants $4.7 billion yearly from Korea to pay for US troops

By Ken Hanly     Nov 15, 2019 in Politics
South Korea has already been paying an unusually large percentage of the cost of keeping US troops in the country. Last year under pressure from President Trump South Korea agree to pay the US $924 million each year.
The earlier agreement is described in an article at the time: "South Korea's agreement with the U.S. follows months of negotiations over the proposal following criticism from President Trump over the amount of South Korea's monetary contributions to U.S. troops.“The reason I do not want military drills with South Korea is to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. for which we are not reimbursed," Trump tweeted last year."
Trump indicated he wanted even more
Even after that increase Trump has suggested more than once that he wanted even more arguing that South Korea could easily afford it.
Trump's shocker
Trump's new demand is that South Korea pay the US $4.7 billion annually, more than five times what it pays at present, shocking everyone on both sides.
The paper Chosun Ilbo announced the new figure: "The paper provides a translation of U.S. comments, saying that James DeHart, a senior State Department official in charge of the financial negotiations, made an unplanned visit to South Korea yesterday, where he informed South Korea that the new figure was going to be much higher than anyone had expected, more than $5 billion, but that the United States would be willing to take only a portion of the cost and accept $4.7 billion per year as the cost of keeping troops stationed in South Korea."
New amount causes consternation in South Korea and the US
The huge increase is raising questions in the South about the viability of keeping the US around. US officials are also concerned about how they can possibly justify the new figure that appears to have come from nowhere. South Korea had just recently agreed to pay more to support the US troops as a recent article noted: "Last year, the South Korean government paid the United States roughly $830 Million to cover its share of the costs of housing American troops. This was deemed by the Trump administration to be too small a contribution, and they negotiated in February to increase the amount to $924 Million."
What the US may argue
While it may take a great deal of creative accounting to show that the US demand will just cover the costs of the US troops in South Korea, officials may simply argue that the relative prosperity of the South is due to the US presence. The US deserves to share in this prosperity and hence the huge payment each year.
US officials worry that Trump is going to issue similar inflated demands to countries such as Japan and Germany. Trump has indicated before he thinks they should pay more to support US troops deployed in those countries.
Although Trump may think that South Korea and other countries have no choice but to pay up this may be a delusion. South Korea may feel it should reduce the number of US troops present and cut down on joint military drills to lessen the cost. The move may encourage the South to seek better relations with the North by reducing its dependency on the US forces.
A recent article claims that the larger payments may help Trump finance expensive domestic programs but suggests there could also be negative results: "It also alienates international allies, further demonstrates that under Trump the United States is an unreliable military partner, and provides direct material aid to nations which have sworn to harm or even destroy the United States. (It is readily apparent that even the direct threat of US troop departure aids both North Korea and China, regionally, and Russia which has been extending its influence in Southeast Asia). "
More about US South Korea relations, US troops in Korea, Payment for US troops
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