September 06, 2019 13:41
U.S. President Donald Trump has gone into full campaign mode for the elections in 2020 and is riding the same hobby horses that spurred his unexpected first-term victory, and once again Korea is becoming a target.
In a characteristically rambling meeting with the press on Wednesday, Trump claimed Washington is spending "a lot of money" to help Korea and other countries, but they "have never appreciated it." The petulant claim comes ahead of bilateral defense burden-sharing negotiations that will kick off this month.
Trump made the claim at the White House when asked by a reporter how the U.S. would respond if China decided to blockade the South China Sea. Trumps swerved the question and said instead, "We have a lot of very strong allies. We are doing a lot of allies very big favors by even being over there."
He went on to say, "We're spending a lot of money to help Japan. We're spending a lot of money to help South Korea, the Philippines. We spend a lot of money to help a lot of people."
"In many cases, in some cases, but many cases, these people don't do so much for us, but we are helping a lot of people throughout the world that have never appreciated it," he added.
Incoherence aside, the remarks bode ill for the upcoming negotiations. Back in February, Seoul already agreed to pay W1.039 trillion for this year's defense cost sharing, up 8.2 percent on-year (US$1=W1,202).
But White House National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have both pushed Seoul to pay an increased share, even as they are demanding that Seoul join Washington's military adventures in the South China Sea and the Gulf, where money is apparently no object.
Meanwhile, Trump also reiterated his promise of sunny uplands for North Korea if it denuclearizes. "I think that North Korea has tremendous economic potential," he said. "North Korea can be a great country... They can be great. We are not looking for a regime change."
He had been asked about Iran.
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