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Seoul, Washington have not discussed reducing U.S. military presence in S. Korea
Updated: 2020-07-20 17:05:28 KST
With recent reports from Washington of a possible reduction in U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, how future defense cost-sharing negotiations will unfold between South Korea and the U.S. remains unclear.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Defense Department has provided the White House with options regarding a reduction of the country's military presence in South Korea.
There were also remarks from U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper that Washington will review relocating its military in certain areas in the coming months, including the Indo-Pacific.
Such reports hint that the U.S. could be seeking to use its military presence as leverage on defense cost-sharing negotiations.
South Korea and the U.S. have not been able to agree on how much Seoul should pay to house U.S. troops in the country.
But South Korea has been keeping a close eye on recent developments.
An unnamed foreign ministry official says the defense cost-sharing negotiations have never been linked to adjusting the amount of U.S. troops and this will continue to be the case.
Seoul's defense ministry echoed these sentiments.

"South Korea and the U.S. are closely coordinating on holding talks over the phone between the defense chiefs. But the two countries won't discuss adjusting the size of the U.S.' military presence."

There are some 28-thousand U.S. troops stationed in South Korea but the allies' Special Measures Agreement expired at the end of last year.
The Trump administration has demanded Seoul to pay one.three billion U.S. dollars roughly a 50-percent increase from the previous year but Seoul has been trying to negotiate a 13-percent hike instead.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.
Reporter : jhlucyoh@arirang.com