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Washington presses on Seoul to pay for US military presence in South Korea

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — After the US Army Chief of Staff, the US Secretary of Defense is the second senior Pentagon official to want to persuade South Korea over the last 24 hours to spend even more to finance the US military. costs of deploying US forces in his country.

Esper called on South Korean officials to abide by the Military Information Direct Sharing Pact with Japan (General Security of Military Information Agreement, GSOMIA).

South Korea insists on the withdrawal of the cooperation agreement between the military intelligence services and Japan.

Under the terms of the pact, Seoul and Tokyo are responsible for exchanging intelligence on North Korean military activities and nuclear missile testing.

Following a high-level meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, the Pentagon boss said:

“Both countries must be flexible in their joint military maneuvers to support diplomatic measures to end the North Korean nuclear program.”

He did not, however, mention the decrease in the level of joint South-US military exercises; what Pyongyang strongly criticized.

On Thursday, North Korea rejected the US proposal to hold a new round of bilateral talks ahead of Pyongyang’s one-year deadline.

At the same time, the United States and South Korea are striving to reach an agreement in the coming weeks, including funding for US troops on the Korean peninsula next year. At present, 28,500 American soldiers are stationed in South Korea to face potential threats from North Korea.

On Thursday, US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley held talks with his South Korean counterpart, Park Han Ki, on military cooperation and threats from North Korea. The two sides also discussed the suspension of the cooperation agreement between the military intelligence services of South Korea and Japan as well as the financing of US troops based on the Korean peninsula.

A South Korean lawmaker announced last week that US authorities are asking their South Korean counterparts to pay $ 5 billion a year to fund the US military’s military presence on the Korean peninsula, more than five times the average. amount that Seoul agreed to pay under a one-year contract.

The results of a survey released last week by the Korean Institute for National Unification (ICUN) reveal that 96 percent of South Koreans are opposed to providing an additional budget to the US military presence in the country. country.

In response to the US request to increase the US military’s allocation to South Korea, North Korea has indicated that this reflects American-style looting and the growth of the US military. United States military hegemony in the region.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea announced that the next round of talks with the United States on defense costs will be held in Seoul on November 18-19.

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