US and South Korea resume talks on sharing cost of American troops

us troops in south koorea
Photo: AFP
us troops in south koorea
Photo: AFP

The 10th round of negotiations between Washington and Seoul over the cost of Korea-stationed US troops will begin today.

These talks are a part of a larger campaign by President Trump to get allies, especially Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea, to pay more for locally stationed US forces. Currently, around 28,500 troops are based on the Korean peninsula, for which Seoul pays $854 million a year. or around 40% of the total costs, under the Special Measures Agreement—a contract set to expire December 31st.

US negotiators are reportedly setting a new target figure between $1.2 to $1.6 billion, while South Korean officials have said such an increase would be unaffordable.

With peace inching closer between the two Koreas, Seoul may no longer value US ground support to as great a degree. Indeed, Mr Trump has also questioned the necessity of the US military’s existence in South Korea. However, given the significant deterrence benefit that a strong US presence affords both Washington and Seoul, much of this talk is likely posturing. Thus, before the year’s end, expect a compromise payment to be reached that is higher than the status quo, but perhaps not as much as Mr Trump would like.

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