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Esper says crucial S Korea pay more for U.S. troops

26 Comments
By Joyce Lee and Phil Stewart

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pressed South Korea on Friday to pay more for the cost of stationing U.S. troops in the country and to maintain an intelligence-sharing pact with its other Asian ally Japan that Seoul is about to let lapse.

Speaking after a high-level defense policy meeting with his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong-doo, Esper also said the two countries have to be flexible with their joint military drills to support ongoing diplomatic efforts to end North Korea's nuclear program.

But he stopped short of announcing any changes to exercises next month that North Korea has sharply condemned.

North Korea said on Thursday it had turned down a U.S. offer for fresh talks ahead of a year-end deadline Pyongyang has set for Washington to show more flexibility in negotiations.

The United States and South Korea are scrambling to clinch an agreement in the coming weeks to cover next year's costs of maintaining the 28,500-strong U.S. military presence aimed at deterring North Korea.

South Korea, Esper said, "is a wealthy country and could and should pay more" for the deployment of U.S. military in the South.

"It is crucial that we conclude the (defense pact) ... with increased burden sharing by the Republic of Korea before the end of the year," Esper told a news conference.

Jeong said he and Esper shared the view that the cost-sharing pact now being negotiated should be fair and mutually agreeable, but it was unclear if they shared any sense of what a fair amount might be.

A South Korean lawmaker said last week that U.S. officials demanded up to $5 billion a year, more than five times what Seoul agreed to pay this year under a one-year deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump's insistence Seoul take on a greater contribution as deterrence against North Korea has rattled South Korea. It could also set a precedent for upcoming U.S. negotiations on defense cost-sharing with other allies.

Jeong said he and Esper discussed personal views on South Korea's decision to end an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, called GSOMIA, and that both governments will put in realistic effort to narrow differences before the pact expires on Nov 23.

Relations between the two neighbors have plunged after South Korea's top court last year ordered Japanese firms to compensate some wartime forced laborers, and Japan curbed exports of key industrial materials to South Korea in July.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Its going to be hard to get them to pay more when the President lauded the previous deal to the point you would believe that South Korea go completely taken advantaged of

2 ( +4 / -2 )

South Korea is not a wealthy country. Their economy is now in trouble. The export oriented country has a population of 50 million. Their domestic consumption is limited. The exports dropped sharply recently due to the dwindling world economy, tariff war beween China and U.S. and by the trouble with Japan. It seems Moon does not care about U.S. Forces there. His mind is inclined to the unification of South and North Korea.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Don't see why my tax dollars need to go to defending South Korea when they couldn't care less about US interests. The US-JPN-SK alliance exists to counter NK and China. If South Korea is switching sides just say so.

7 ( +18 / -11 )

Delusional.  US military in SK not very popular (bit like Okinawa) so there will be no political appetite to pay more.  This is one area where I kind of agree with DT - US should just get out of all these anachronistic arrangements.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Don't see why my tax dollars need to go to defending South Korea when they couldn't care less about US interests. 

Tbf, there's not many countries (aside from the US) that care about US interests. And that's the way it should be.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Toasted HereticToday  05:29 pm JST

Don't see why my tax dollars need to go to defending South Korea when they couldn't care less about US interests. 

Tbf, there's not many countries (aside from the US) that care about US interests. And that's the way it should be.

Alliances are formed because different nations share a common security concern. US allies care about US interests because it serves their own interests. And of course the reverse is true.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

American troops are there because past Presidents wanted to ensure South Korea was not taken over and made Communist by the North. The current President does not care about the spread of Communism so does not understand why America should have to pay anything for its troops stationed there. In other words, like in all things, Trump does not see the big picture.

Trump's limited intellect, unable to focus on anything but himself for more than a moment, fails to understand that US troops are there as much for a democratic free world, one that the US used to be the leader of, as much as for protection of South Korea itself.

The fall out from the US domestic election result of 2016 continues to damage the free world. We can only hope for a correction of that error in 2020.

South Korea already pay's a fair amount for US troops stationed on it's soil. A demand for a 500% increase is a way for Trump to pull out the troops and leave the South a juicy target for Communist takeover. What that meas for Japan is that its closest military ally by distance will be gone and the closest by distance will become Australia. Also it brings Communist Korea much closer to Japan and makes the danger from that direction much more serious.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

It's what happens when a business man is elected for president.

To prevent North Korea/China/Russia, three nuclear powers matching into South Korea.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Peter14Today  06:00 pm JST

A demand for a 500% increase is a way for Trump to pull out the troops and leave the South a juicy target for Communist takeover. What that meas for Japan is that its closest military ally by distance will be gone and the closest by distance will become Australia. 

Do you believe that South Korea has conducted itself as an "ally" of Japan? I remind you of the radar lock incident, and the continuing refusal to allow JMSDF into SK because of an objection to the Japanese Naval Ensign.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

How about taking those troops and redeploying them to the Mexican state terror group that kills and terrorizes civilians just south of the US border?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I agree South Korea should pay more. But I was thinking the form of first class one way tickets back to America...you know....so the troops can feel appreciated as they go back to mind their own country's business.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@OssanJapan

Don't see why my tax dollars need to go to defending South Korea

You mean your tax yen? Don't worry, not a dime of your yen was spent for that purpose.

The US-JPN-SK alliance exists

There is no such thing as US-JP-KR alliance. There are two parallel alliances, US-JP and US-KR alliances.

Do you believe that South Korea has conducted itself as an "ally" of Japan?

Korea is not an ally of Japan.

continuing refusal to allow JMSDF into SK because of an objection to the Japanese Naval Ensign.

JMSDF warships are welcome in Korea, as long as they fly Japan's national flag Hinomaru proudly like all other navies do. 

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@zichi

It's what happens when a business man is elected for president.

Moon is no business man; Moon was a former spec-ops soldier specialized in parachuting behind enemy lines and blowing up bridges, buildings, sabotages etc. He was an explosives specialist. Moon was a top class spec-ops soldier who was commended by Dictator President Chun Doo Hwan himself, an award that Moon desperately tried to play down in his post-military life as a lawyer. The conservatives always mock Moon as a fake human rights lawyer, the henchmen of a military dictator instead.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/moon-jae-in-from-special-forces-soldier-to-south-koreas-president-shoo-in

Moon Jae In: From special forces soldier to South Korea president

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Hypocrite United States. We give $billions a year to Israel that has nuclear weapons, satellites, and tried a moon landing. If Trump wants to save money he needs to cut out Israel's free money.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's what happens when a business man is elected for president.

I'm pretty sure he as talking about Trump.

But jeez you sure were quick to write a biography of your hero.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Keep ricking the boat, Moon, this is just the start of the repercussions. The price of your defense is only going to get more costly.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@extanker

The price of your defense is only going to get more costly.

You don't understand what's happening.

Moon doesn't mind the US troop reduction to 22K which is the minimum troop level legally mandated by the US Congress. The ROK has the biggest army of the free world larger than even the US army, and the US troop reduction of 6500 doesn't really affect Korea's national security, especially when Moon is executing the biggest arms build up in Korea's recent history. Basically Moon intends to drag the SMA negotiation out until the end of Trump's first term, and hopes to open a new renegotiation with a Democratic president elect in 2021. Because of this, the US doesn't have much of a leverage; Trump can't order a troop pull out because of the US defense bill mandating a minimum troop level in Korea, nor are Koreans as desperate for US troops as much as they were in the past because of Korea's own massive arms build up.

Now, the question is what will Abe do when Trump comes around and demand a $10 billion in annual defense contribution? Does Abe have the guts of a spec-ops soldier like Moon to stand his ground and say no to Trump? Or is he going to raise the contribution to $10 billion without asking a question like when he agreed to buy $7 billion worth of US corn?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The ROK has the biggest army of the free world larger than even the US army

Dude. You're pretty funny with this stuff. The active components size of the the ROK Army and US Army are fairly close. Right now, estimates have it as the ROK is about 10K members larger.

But now let's compare the size of both country's entire armed forces...

South Korea's active component is only 599,000 members. Compare that to the 1,359,685 active members of the US military, putting the US behind only China and India.

You love to exaggerate and alter information to make it look like you know what you are talking about but you are consistently caught being wrong or lying. Why should anyone listen to anything you have to say?

As for the rest of what you said, sure, Moon doesn't need the US. Then why hasn't he kicked them out already? Because unlike you, he actually knows that in reality he can't back up how tough he talks without Uncle Sam to back him up.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@extanker

The active components size of the the ROK Army and US Army are fairly close. Right now, estimates have it as the ROK is about 10K members larger.

Thank you for backing up my statement. As the country with the biggest army of the free world, the ROK doesn't really sweat at the loss of 6500 US troops.

But now let's compare the size of both country's entire armed forces...

No need since the troops that Trump is threatening to pull is the army troops. Loss of 6500 US army troops doesn't have much effect on the ROK's overall defense posture.

This is why Trump's blackmailing isn't working.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Vanityofvanities

South Korea is not a wealthy country. Their economy is now in trouble. The export oriented country has a population of 50 million.

Really? So the world's number 8 economy is not a wealthy country? They only have 50 mil people? France and Germany are the only EU countries with a higher population than South Korea. France and Germany are the only EU countries that produce higher GDP than South Korea. So in your assessment Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland, and more are not wealthy countries?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Their economy is now in trouble

You mean the economy that has performed exactly 0.1% below predictions? There isn't any economy currently that isn't contracting. The EU brexit issue and the China vs US trade war has hurt all economies. I don't know if you pay attention but almost all economies have missed their forecasts this year. Your statement is akin to saying the sun will rise in 2019

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Do you believe that South Korea has conducted itself as an "ally" of Japan? I remind you of the radar lock incident, and the continuing refusal to allow JMSDF into SK because of an objection to the Japanese Naval Ensign.

Both South Korea and Japan have acted as less than allies over the recent past but that alters nothing. The glue holding the alliance together is the US. Both rely on the US umbrella of protection and like it or not would provide aid and support in the event of conflict.

The reality is if Japan were to fall then South Korea would be virtually surrounded and if South Korea falls, Japan is a long way from help and much more vulnerable.

Both sides need to realise they are better off not infighting, and are stronger and safer standing together.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The US demanded $ 8 billion to quadruple the cost of US troops in Japan, according to Yahoo News. 

What does an alliance mean to the United States?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The US demanded $ 8 billion to quadruple the cost of US troops in Japan, according to Yahoo News. 

Trump treats everything like its a business. The main purpose of the U.S. military in sK and Japan is to protect their own interests in the region where three nuclear powers, China/Russia/North Korea share borders.

I think Japan currently pays about ¥2 trillion/$18.3 billion.

$8 billion isn't quadruple its about a little more than double $8 billion/¥870 billion.

Time for the U.S troops to leave Japan.

https://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/trump-asked-tokyo-8-billion-045714985.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trump treats everything like its a business.

Yes, in the end, it’s all about dollars, Euros and Pounds.

The main purpose of the U.S. military in sK and Japan is to protect their own interests in the region where three nuclear powers, China/Russia/North Korea share borders.

Yup.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

America has something like 883 oversea bases. The annual defense budget was about $800 billion the highest in the world. It was greatly increased by Trump. The cost of maintaining those bases is only a small part of the total budget.

Even if all 800 bases were shut down the savings would also be small. The troops and equipment would br shipped back. The troops would remain enlisted.

Yes, in the end, it’s all about dollars, Euros and Pounds.

If it's all about dollars then Trump since taking office has added $3 trillion to the national debt and over two term could take it above $30 trillion limit.

Part of the national debt increase was due to the Trump increasing the military budget to $956.5 billion, almost $1 trillion.

The cost of personnel at overseas bases $23 billion. Cost of travel $1.3 billion. Cost of maintenance $7.5 billion. Cost of construction $5 billion. Healthcare $6 billion. Training $1 billion.

Total cost $50 billion from a budget of $956.5 billion.

Most of the defense budget is spent inside America. The military employ 2% of the work force.

https://www.911tap.org/557-news-releases/768-2019-defense-budget-supports-883-overseas-bases-and-is-lethal-to-humanity

Shutting the overseas bases would produce very little savings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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