Trump expects S. Korea to contribute more to defense: State Dept.
By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear that he expects South Korea and other allies to contribute more to military defense, the U.S. State Department said Monday.
Earlier, South Korea's foreign ministry said negotiations on renewing a burden-sharing deal with the U.S. will begin Tuesday and Wednesday in Seoul.
The 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) will determine how the allies share the cost of stationing 28,500 American soldiers in South Korea as part of efforts to deter North Korean aggression and counter China's military rise.
"As the President has indicated, discussions have begun to further increase South Korea's contributions to military defense," a State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency in a written statement.
"The President has been clear in the expectation that our allies, including the ROK, can and should contribute more, given the immense costs of U.S. assets and deployments, as well as costs necessary to ensure the alliance is ready to meet any potential challenge," the spokesperson added, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that talks had already begun to "further increase payments to the United States."
"South Korea has agreed to pay substantially more money to the United States in order to defend itself from North Korea," he said at the time. "Over the past many decades, the U.S. has been paid very little by South Korea, but last year, at the request of President Trump, South Korea paid $990,000,000."
This year's SMA required South Korea to pay 1.04 trillion won (US$871 million), an increase of 8.2 percent from the previous year.
Seoul has shouldered partial costs since 1991, including for Korean civilians hired by U.S. Forces Korea, the construction of military facilities, and other forms of support.
"The United States appreciates the considerable resources the ROK provides to support the Alliance, including but not limited to its contribution towards the cost of maintaining the presence of U.S. forces in Korea through our defense burden-sharing agreement, the SMA," the spokesperson noted.
The issue of burden-sharing is likely to be discussed at a summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York later Monday.
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