Asia & Pacific

South Korea to Increase Contribution to Cost of US Troop Presence Under New Deal, State Dept Says

The talks about the costs had stopped during Trump’s presidency due to the administration’s demand that Seoul pay five times what it had previously paid. The new agreement will allow for a “meaningful increase” in South Korea’s contribution and last until 2025.

The US and South Korea have reached an agreement in principle on a new cost-sharing arrangement for the American troop presence in South Korea, which is said to be a deterrent for North Korea, AP reported.

The State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said on Sunday that the agreement involves a “negotiated increase” in the Republic of Korea’s cost share. 

The deal, if finalized, would reaffirm the US-South Korean treaty alliance as “the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for Northeast Asia,” the Bureau’s statement on Twitter read.

“America’s alliances are a tremendous source of our strength. This development reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to reinvigorating and modernizing our democratic alliances around the word to advance our shared security and prosperity,” the State Department added.

At the moment, around 28,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea.

The agreement between Seoul and Washington comes after the United States and Japan signed a cost-sharing agreement last month. The measures are part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to strengthen relations with key allies in the region.

US Troops on Guard in South Korea

American troops have been in South Korea since the Korean War, which ended in the signing of an armistice agreement between North Korea, or DPRK, and the troops under the UN flag. Pyongyang has repeatedly insisted on the signing of a peace treaty and the withdrawal of the United States military contingent from South Korea, but so far Washington has not agreed to this due to the “North Korean threat.”

Since 1991, South Korea has paid the US portion of the costs of keeping the US military in the peninsula under a special agreement.

Under the Trump administration, the US had sought a 50% increase in payments from South Korea. Seoul initially offered to increase its spending by only 10%. In March 2020, the parties agreed to an increase of 13-14% and further sequential increases by 7-8% annually until 2024. However, these conditions were not welcomed by Trump and the talks reached an impasse.

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