US reaches deal with South Korea to share troop costs

The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement to bolster Seoul’s financial support for the U.S. military presence in the country, with the aim of resolving a major source of friction in the alliance during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The interim pact has yet to be finalized and signed but was concluded in principle on Sunday, according to officials involved in the negotiations.

The State Department said this reflected “the Biden administration’s commitment to reinvigorate and modernize our democratic alliances around the world.”

“This proposed agreement, containing a negotiated significant increase in support contributions from the host country of the Republic of Korea, reaffirms that the United States-Republic of Korea Alliance is the backbone of peace, security and prosperity for Northeast Asia and a Free and Open Indo -Pacific region, ”the State Department said.

The deal follows a tense standoff under the Trump administration that strained ties between Washington and Seoul.

The former president, who demanded that South Korea quadruple the amount it paid to welcome US troops, berated the allies for not spending more on defense and floated the idea of ​​potentially withdrawing troops from the Asian country despite threats posed by the expansion of the Chinese army.

The Trump administration’s refusal to move in negotiations has raised concerns among other long-time U.S. defense partners, including Japan and NATO countries, which have similar defense cost-sharing agreements. with the United States.

The cost-sharing agreement, the Special Measures Agreement, was renegotiated every five years from 1991 to 2018.

In 2019, only a one-year deal was reached after the two sides failed to agree on a way to meet Trump’s demands. An ad hoc arrangement has been made to cover the last period of the Trump presidency and avoid disruption to US bases in South Korea.

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