News & Politics

Trump's Jawboning Leads to Increase in South Korea Payments for U.S. Military Presence

President Donald Trump shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

South Korea has agreed to substantially increase its contribution to cover the cost of keeping U.S. troops in that country. Seoul said they would pay $924 million this year compared to $830 million in recent years.

The deal is for one year only and negotiations for next year would have to begin in a few months.

The Hill:

The new agreement still requires approval from South Korea’s parliament, the AP noted. Unlike past cost-sharing deals, which lasted multiple years, the new agreement would only be for one year, forcing negotiators to hammer out a new pact in the coming months, it added.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said feedback for the agreement has been “positive so far,” but acknowledged some pushback, the AP reported.

Trump, who has been a vocal critic of other nations failing to contribute for U.S. military presence around the world, highlighted the cost of keeping troops in South Korea during an interview earlier this month.

“It’s very expensive,” he said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “But I have no plans, I’ve never even discussed removing them.”

The new payment agreement comes weeks before Trump is set to meet for a second time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam for the summit on Feb. 27-28.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke regularly with Trump before and after his first summit with Kim last June.

The president had been harping about South Korea not paying its fair share since the 2016 campaign, making this new agreement a clear victory for his policy of getting other nations to pay more for U.S. force protection. Last month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Trump’s jawboning led to an increase in contributions from NATO countries of $100 billion.

The administration had demanded the South Koreans pay $1.2 billion, but Seoul balked at that amount. It’s unclear whether Seoul will negotiate a longer deal for next year, or whether they will up their contribution to pay for the U.S. military presence again.