November 12, 2019 10:23
Washington has demanded a "reimbursement" of expenses for Korea's defense in talks about sharing the costs for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea. The demand envisions Seoul paying Washington back for extra military resources it deploys for Korea's defense.
The U.S. is demanding a total of US$5 billion a year, including these additional costs, a five-fold increase from this year's $1 billion. Korean negotiators demurred, saying the new proposal lies outside the framework of the Special Measures Agreement governing the deployment of the USFK.
Sources here said Monday that James DeHart, the senior State Department adviser for security negotiations, in talks last month went through a list of specific advanced weapons that he claimed were extra U.S. contributions to Korea's defense that need to be paid for.
U.S. negotiators also demanded that Korea shoulder part of the expenses for rotating USFK troops with mainland forces every six to nine months, for conducting joint drills and for maintaining American civilian staff at the USFK and their families.
The overall picture that emerges is that Washington under President Donald Trump sees its military increasingly as an international service provider and its soldiers as guns for hire.
The South Korean negotiators have insisted on keeping talks within the SMA framework, which simply defines the scope of USFK upkeep. They warned that South Korea's National Assembly is unlikely to ratify what would be tantamount to hiring an army of mercenaries and their kit.
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