August 20, 2019 13:22
Korea went with some trepidation into a preliminary meeting in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss Seoul's share of the upkeep cost of U.S. troops here.
The U.S. is expected to lean heavily on Korea to satisfy demands for more money from U.S. President Donald Trump. Already last week Trump lied in a tweet to the nation that Korea "has agreed" to shoulder a bigger share of its defense costs.
There is a rumor circulating in diplomatic circles that Washington is demanding US$5 billion from Seoul for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea. That would also covers the indirect cost of the deployment of U.S. strategic weapons here.
Last February, the two countries agreed that Seoul will pay just under $1 billion for the upkeep, but the agreement is only valid for a year instead of the usual five.
Washington has also demanded a fivefold increase in the defense sharing cost from other allies like Japan, where the next update is due in 2021.
"Washington will be seen as having bluffed several countries if it gives in to Seoul in the negotiations," a government official here said. "It is highly likely to bully us as a way of setting a benchmark for its talks with Japan and the EU."
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