South Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo has called for a fair and reasonable deal in sharing the cost of stationing U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, expressing hope that Seoul and Washington will be able to reach a win-win agreement.
In an article contributed to the U.S.-based Defense News, Jeong pointed out that South Korea has already contributed to the interests of its ally. based on economic and defense capabilities it has attained.
Referring to the construction of Camp Humphreys a 240-thousand square meter U.S. base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, Jeong said that South Korea has been contributing to the stable stationing and maintenance of the US Forces Korea.
He added that through defense cost-sharing, combined exercises and training and the purchase of cutting-edge weapons systems South Korea has further strengthened the Seoul-Washington alliance which he called the most successful in the world and an alliance forged in blood.
The article comes as South Korea and the U.S. are to hold fresh round of talks on defense cost sharing in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Seoul has been adamant that the cost sharing burden be fair and reasonable and that the figure must be within the framework of their cost sharing agreement, under which Seoul shares the costs for South Korean civilians hired by the USFK, the construction of military facilities and other forms of support.
The previous round of talks held in Seoul two weeks ago were cut short with both sides unable to narrow their differences.
South Korea said the U.S. demanded a massive hike, while Washington said Seoul wasn't responsive to its requests.
The U.S. is believed to be demanding South Korea pay five billion U.S. dollars annually a more than five-fold increase from what Seoul agreed to pay under the current deal that expires at the end of December.
At the other end of the spectrum,.. Washington continues to ramp up pressure on South Korea to contribute more to defense costs, stressing that Seoul's capability has grown "exponentially" in recent decades.
Those remarks came from David Stilwell the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs who said he sees opportunities for further cooperation and the ability to use respective capabilities in a cooperative way.
He noted U.S. President Trump's remarks, saying "as the security background changes and as Washington's partners become wealthier and more capable of taking care of their own security they have to invest in that as a show of alignment."
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.