The Trump administration is reportedly demanding South Korea pay 400% more for U.S. troops in the region, officials said.
The president’s demands for an increase in spending of about $4.7 billion came as Defense Department Secretary Mark Esper is visiting South Korea to discuss the change in military costs, saying South Korea is wealthy enough to cover what the president is asking for, according to CNN, citing a congressional aide and an administration official.
“Sustaining the costs of our global military presence is not a burden that should fall on the US taxpayer alone but is a responsibility that should be shared fairly with allies and partners who benefit from our presence,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Trump is demanding that South Korea pay roughly 400% more in 2020 to cover the cost of keeping US troops on the peninsula, sources say. (Corrects price tag increase percentage) https://t.co/Ozk8vXYZXx
— CNN (@CNN) November 15, 2019
Esper said during a joint press conference with South Korean Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo that South Korea is a wealthy enough country to foot part of the United States’ bill for military forces in the area, according to The Associated Press.
“This is a very strong alliance we have, but [South] Korea is a wealthy country and could and should pay more to help offset the cost of defense,” Esper said, adding that while South Korea has given the U.S. “a fair amount of support in the past … most of that money stays here in this country — easily over 90% of that money stays here in Korea, it does not go to the United States.”
Lawmakers and military officials expressed concern with the suddenness of the decision to raise prices so drastically, according to CNN. Trump asked for a 50% increase in military spending in South Korea the year before, though South Korea only eventually committed to 8%.
The Defense secretary’s announcement came after North Korea accused the U.S. on Wednesday of breaching a 2018 deal by taking part in joint military exercises with South Korea.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issued an official statement Wednesday saying the U.S. “had better behave itself with prudence” in a threat against reports of continued joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S., Foreign Policy reported.
NEW: North Korean statement attributed unusually to a spokesman of the State Affairs Commission. US will face “greater threat” if North Korea goes on its “new way.” pic.twitter.com/kIjOdleP1H
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) November 13, 2019
“Despite our repeated warnings, the U.S. and the South Korean side decided to push ahead with the military drill hostile to the DPRK at the most sensitive time. This has further enraged our people, making it hard for them to keep the patience they have so far exercised,” a statement by a spokesperson for North Korea read, according to Foreign Policy.
“The U.S. is not accepting with due consideration the year-end time limit that we set out of great patience and magnanimity,” the statement continued.
“Such moves of the U.S. constitute an undisguised breach of the June 12 DPRK-U.S. joint statement, adopted on the basis of mutual trust, and an open denial of the Singapore agreement … which evoked great sensation worldwide.” the spokesperson concluded in reference to a joint statement signed by Trump and Kim in June 2018.
The 2018 statement indicated Trump would give security guarantees to North Korea in exchange for the regime to take concrete steps toward denuclearization.
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