Top U.S. officials are stepping up the pressure on South Korea to shoulder a larger burden of the costs of station American troops here.
In a rare op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and defense secretary Mark Esper, they say Seoul can and should pay more.
The officials said that Washington's contributions to Seoul's defense far exceed the cost of U.S. 'boots on the ground' and constitute a far larger burden for the American taxpayer than meets the eye.
Although the U.S. says it has scaled back its proposal, it had initially demanded five billion U.S. dollars a five-fold increase from what Seoul agreed to pay under last year's deal.
The two secretaries said that improved burden-sharing arrangement will benefit both sides, adding that over 90 percent of South Korea's contributions go back to the local economy.
They also said that Seoul's larger share will ensure the alliance remains the linchpin of peace and prosperity in the region.