November 13, 2019 09:43
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday piled more pressure on Korea to increase its share of the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea.
U.S Gen. Mark Milley echoed President Donald Trump by saying, "The average American looking at the forward-deployed U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan asks some fundamental questions: Why are they needed there? How much does it cost? These are very rich and wealthy countries, why can't they defend themselves?"
He also pressured Seoul to renew a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo that expires next week, saying, "We want to try to resolve that issue before it expires."
The Pentagon in a press release said Milley made the remarks while on a military aircraft bound for Japan.
Once there, Milley said Tuesday that the intelligence-sharing pact is essential for regional security. "It is clearly in China's interests and North Korea's interests to separate South Korea from Japan and the United States. It is in our interests to keep all three of us very closely aligned," he said.
Milley arrives in Korea on Wednesday for a bilateral Military Committee Meeting the next day, where he is expected to make much the same points.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will also arrive in Seoul on Thursday to attend the annual Security Consultative Meeting. The Pentagon said that the Korea-Japan intelligence-sharing pact will be on the agenda and expressed hope that the issue will be resolved.
Although cost-sharing for the USFK upkeep is not on the formal agenda of either meeting, "they will certainly be discussed," a military spokesman here said.
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