North Korea Angling for Another Trump-Kim Summit

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island Tuesday

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island Tuesday

South Korea is a wealthy country and should increase its share of the cost for stationing some 28,500 US troops on the divided peninsula by the end of year deadline, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday.

"South Korea is a wealthy country and could and should pay more to help offset the cost of defense", Esper said in a press conference following the meeting.

Trump has long complained about the cost of keeping USA forces overseas, and a year ago canceled joint military exercises with South Korea in what was described as a cost-saving effort.

North Korea on Thursday said the United States has proposed a resumption of stalled nuclear negotiations in December as they approach an end-of-year deadline set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the Trump administration to offer an acceptable deal to salvage the talks.

That demand was made during a high-level defence policy meeting in Seoul.

Esper also acknowledged that South Korea has provided "a fair amount of support" but said most of the funding ended up back in the local economy.

A South Korean lawmaker said last week that US officials had demanded up to $5 billion a year, more than five times what Seoul agreed to pay this year under a one-year deal.

At Friday's news conference, Esper said American demands for a more favorable sharing of defense costs applies not only to South Korea but also to allies and partners across the globe.

Seoul now contributes under $1 billion (€907 million) a year for U.S. military support which began in 1951 during the three-year war between the two Koreas.

"If the U.S. still seeks a sinister aim of appeasing us in a bid to pass the time limit - the end of this year - easily as it did during the DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations in Sweden early in October, we have no willingness to have such negotiations", he said, using the abbreviation of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

After his talks with Jeong, Esper warned that South Korea's decision to end an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, called GSOMIA, would impact military readiness - presumably by slowing the ability of the USA allies to directly share information about North Korean military activity.

Seoul has baulked at the figure and Jeong said that burden-sharing had been "fair and reasonable" so far and should remain so, albeit at a level that would "improve" the alliance.

"The only ones who benefit from expiration of GSOMIA and continued friction between Seoul and Tokyo are Pyongyang and Beijing", he told reporters.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), hosted a video teleconference from Seoul on Friday with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, during which South Korea's Park Han-ki stressed the importance of trilateral cooperation, its JCS said.

Jeong said both South Korea and Japan would make efforts to narrow differences before the pact expires on November 23.

The moves are seen as retaliation against South Korean Supreme Court rulings past year that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

"Japan imposed trade restrictions and removed South Korea from its white list, saying it can't trust Seoul for issues surrounding security", he said.

Latest News