Talks stall on defense costs with South Korea

Talks between the U.S. and South Korea on defense costs were halted after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on how much South Korea should contribute for the ongoing U.S. military presence in its country. 

U.S. negotiator James DeHart says that Washington broke off the meeting to give Seoul “time to reconsider,” Reuters reported Tuesday. 

“Unfortunately, the proposals that were put forward by the Korean negotiating team were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden sharing,” he added. 

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DeHart also said, “We look forward to resuming our negotiations when the Korean side is ready to work on the basis of partnership and the basis of mutual trust,” according to The Associated Press

The AP quoted South Korea’s Foreign Ministry as saying that the U.S. wants a “drastic increase” in Seoul’s contributions. 

“It is true that there is a substantial difference between the U.S. side’s overall proposal and the principles we pursue,” South Korean negotiator Jeong Eun-bo said at a news conference. “The talks could not proceed as planned as the U.S. side left first.”

The Trump administration has pushed for South Korea, as well as other nations, to pay more for U.S. troops stationed there. 

“[South Korea] is a wealthy country and could and should pay more,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last week

“It is crucial that we conclude the [defense pact] … with increased burden-sharing by the Republic of Korea before the end of the year,” he added. 

U.S. and South Korean officials previously reached an agreement in February to increase South Korea’s contribution.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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