US Asks South Korea to Pay More for Presence of US Forces

US Asks South Korea to Pay More for Presence of US Forces

Wayne Clark

In a bid to increase the pay of over 28000 American troops posted in South Korea, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have made a strong appeal to the country.

The appeal was made on Thursday in an uncommon joint commentary soon after the two countries concluded their sixth round of dialogues held in Washington. The talks took place between the two sides for the negotiation of the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), the cost-sharing agreement for the US Forces Korea (USFK).

Earlier in 2019, the US pushed South Korea to shell out more for supporting the US military presence on the peninsula. In 2018, Seoul had agreed to raise its host-national financial support. Officials of Trump regime have argued that since South Korea is a financially rich country, it can easily pay higher. According to experts, the ongoing negotiations and demands for higher pay may pressurize US troops there.

The SMA talks that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the ongoing negotiations could not resolve the differences as Seoul continued to maintain the years- old SMA framework, and the US sought a modification in the accord to enhance its coverage.

South Korea has earlier contributed to leading US projects in its country that may include Camp Humphreys that has emerged as the largest US base abroad that was constructed a few years ago.

As of now, SMA includes three key categories for Korea’s financial contributions: limited costs for South Korean staff in USFK installations, the creation of a few military facilities, and logistical aid.

However, Washington seeks that SMA should include a complete range of expenses linked with the American forces’ role for the defense of South Korea. It should also include those associated with their rotating deployments to the Peninsula.

Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper have emphasized that the huge majority of South Korea’s contribution to the USFK will help the local economy. The two secretaries also clarified that US presence on the Peninsula has allowed South Korea to create a vibrant democracy and the world’s 12th largest economy.

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