November 07, 2019 10:06
The U.S. is demanding US$4.7 billion from Korea to keep American troops stationed here and maintain armaments in the region.
After presenting Korea with an astronomical bill for what it claims to have spent on its defense, James DeHart, the senior State Department adviser for security negotiations, offered to take only a "portion" of the amount and proposed the $4.7 billion figure.
DeHart was quoted as saying that U.S. President Donald Trump wants Korea to "contribute more" to American defense of Korea.
The U.S. believes that defense cost-sharing talks with Korea will serve as the barometer for upcoming negotiations with Japan, Germany and NATO to increase the amount they shoulder for letting the U.S. station troops on their soil.
David Stilwell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, has called the Korea-U.S. alliance the "linchpin" of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.
There are fears here that the U.S. will threaten to withdraw troops unless it gets its money.
The government pointed out that defense costs require National Assembly ratification and countered the U.S. proposal by warning that any defense activities outside Korea could not be audited by lawmakers. That seems to have prompted DeHart to fly on for a visit on Wednesday to meet with politicians.
Stilwell met Cheong Wa Dae deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong along with Robert Abrams, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea. They also discussed a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that Korea wants to end.
Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said, "Kim explained our stance [on the pact] and defense cost-sharing, and the U.S. repeatedly stressed that the Korea-U.S. alliance served as the 'linchpin' of security in Northeast Asia."
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