US-South Korea agree on military cost-sharing deal

South Korea and the United States have signed a new military cost-sharing deal on Friday.

The deal, which includes spending South Korean taxpayer money, would increase the country’s financial contribution for the deployment of US military in South Korea.

After failed negotiations, chief delegates from both sides have agreed on Seoul contributing circa 1.04 trillion won (US$924 million) in 2019 for the USA’s military presence – increasing up from about $830 million in 2018.

The deal’s signing came days after both countries terminated their extensive military drills and replaced them with smaller training to upkeep diplomatic efforts with North Korea and push the country to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Many South Korean experts said that such action would likely deteriorate the military readiness in the event of failing diplomatic negotiations and thus, rekindling tensions with North Korea.

US President Donald Trump pressured Seoul before to increase its share, causing worries by South Korea that Washington might decide to withdraw a number of the 28,500 US troops stationed in the country.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry Kang Kyung-wha stated that the deal is expected to provide a “stable environment” for the deployment of US troops while it allows strengthening both countries’ alliance.

The deal requires parliamentary approval in Seoul, but not in Washington. It is expected to easily pass through South Korea’s parliament as the conservative opposition party greatly supports a stronger South Korea-US alliance.