A critical week for South Korea and its alliance with the U.S. and relations with Japan this week.
A series of high-level South Korea, U.S. defense and security talks are starting to wrap up with a third round of defense cost sharing negotiations concluding today and the looming termination of a military intel sharing pact with Japan set for later this week.
A key moment for Seoul, Washington, Tokyo ties: let's take one step further.
Joining me live from Washington via Skype is Scott Snyder, Senior Researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Scott, great to see you this morning.
Key U.S. military officials have been visiting Seoul back to back for the last week - including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, and James DeHart, the top U.S. negotiator in defense cost-sharing talks with South Korea is currently here in Seoul.
What kind of a message, in your view, were they carrying to the Seoul government?
First, South Korea's decision not to renew the military intel sharing pact with Japan. Despite Defense Secretary Mark Esper's meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyung-doo, and his face-to-face with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Washington wasn't able to convince Seoul to renege on its decision. What is the U.S. stance on this and more importantly, what are the ramifications of Seoul's decision to terminate the pact?
Now, onto the defense cost-sharing pact. Officials from Seoul and Washington wrap up their third round of talks today - they've been trying to narrow a 4-billion dollar gap in how much the U.S. wants South Korea to pay for the cost of hosting U.S. troops here.
Reports of Trump's 5 billion dollar demand earlier this month were greeted with shock in Seoul.
What is the U.S. argument and how should Seoul go about negotiating the terms?
Is there a possibility that the U.S. will use South Korea's termination of GSOMIA to their advantage in negotiating a better deal for them in the defense cost-sharing negotiations?
What is the general sentiment in the D.C. circle regarding the South Korea, U.S. alliance, U.S., Japan alliance, and the necessity of both GSOMIA and an increase of Seoul's share of defense costs?
Scott Snyder, Senior researcher at Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations. Our go-to expert on South Korea, U.S. relations many thanks as always for speaking to us this morning.