U.S. weighs in on possible troop reduction on Korean Peninsula, putting Seoul on edge again
Updated: 2020-07-20 09:59:44 KST
The South Korean government is on edge again as the U.S. weighs a possible troop reduction on the Korean Peninsula.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Pentagon offered the White House in March options to cut the number of some 28-thousand troops stationed in South Korea, as part of a comprehensive examination to cut back on military deployments globally.
Citing an unnamed U.S. military official, the report explained that no decision has been made yet.
Responding to an written inquiry by Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, a Pentagon official said the military routinely reviews Washington's global force posture.
The report echoes remarks made by the Pentagon chief, in which he said Washington is working toward (quote) "reallocating, reassigning, and redeploying" its forces around the world.
Mark Esper explained this is in accordance with the National Defense Strategy, adding the Indo-Pacific Command -- which the U.S. Forces Korea is part of -- will be reviewed first in the coming months.
Watchers say it looks like the Trump administration is again pressuring Seoul to increase its share of defense costs.
While the previous agreement between the allies -- the Special Measures Agreement -- expired at the end of last year, Seoul and Washington have yet to conclude their negotiations, amid President Trump's demand for South Korea to pay 1.3 billion U.S. dollars -- a roughly 50 percent increase from the previous year.
Seoul has been insisting on a 13 percent hike from what it paid in 2019.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.