US troops on Montana Range in South Korea (Picture: US Department of Defense).
USA

US And South Korea Agree On New Cost-Sharing Deal For Troops 

US military presence in South Korea is intended to be a deterrent against the potential threat of North Korean aggression.

US troops on Montana Range in South Korea (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The US and South Korea have agreed in principle on a new cost-sharing arrangement for the American military presence in the country.

According to the US State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the deal includes a "negotiated increase" in Seoul's share of the cost, but no details were provided.

The US State Department said on Twitter that the agreement, if finalised, would reaffirm the US-South Korean treaty alliance as "the linchpin of peace, security and prosperity for Northeast Asia".

South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a similar statement, saying the two countries are seeking to tentatively sign the deal.

It said the agreement came after three days of talks in Washington DC and, as first reported in the Wall Street Journal, the new deal is said to run until 2025.

In a statement, the US State Department said: "This development reflects the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to reinvigorating and modernising our democratic alliances around the world to advance our shared security and prosperity."

The US keeps around 28,000 troops in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Donald Trump speaking at presidential podium in South Korea
Under Donald Trump's administration, negotiations for a cost-sharing plan between the two nations failed (Picture: US Army).

How much South Korea should pay for the American military presence, however, was a contentious issue under the Trump administration, which often asked the country to drastically increase its share.

In 2019, a deal was struck requiring South Korea to pay roughly $924m (£667m) for the US troop presence.

However, negotiations for cost-sharing broke down over a US demand that Seoul pay five times what it had paid previously.

Many conservatives in South Korea worried that then-president Donald Trump might use failed negotiations as an excuse to withdraw US troops in the country, as well as a bargaining chip in nuclear talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The US and South Korea had also cancelled some of their military exercises to support the nuclear diplomacy, which eventually fell apart due to disputes over sanctions.

On Monday, the South Korea and US militaries kicked off annual military drills that will last for nine days.

South Korea's military said the drills are command post exercises and computerised simulation and do not involve field training.

Cover image: US troops on Montana Range in South Korea in 2019 (Picture: US Department of Defense).