WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday that South Korea has agreed to pay the United States “substantially more” for protection against North Korea and that talks have begun to further increase payments.
Trump tweeted the U.S. “has been paid very little” for decades but last year “South Korea paid US$990,000,000.”
South Korea and the U.S. in March signed a deal to increase Seoul’s payments for U.S. troop deployment there from $850 million in 2018 to $924 million in 2019. The White House, when asked about the apparent discrepancy between Trump’s tweet and those figures, said it would look into it.
Trump’s financial demands have triggered worries in South Korea that he might withdraw some of the 28,500 U.S. troops.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the cost-sharing talks had not officially started. But it said that U.S. and South Korean officials during Trump national security adviser John Bolton’s visit to Seoul last month agreed that the upcoming negotiations should proceed in a “rational and fair direction.”
North Korea has been test-firing missiles it says are a warning over U.S.-South Korean military exercises.