U.S., South Korea resume protection cost-sharing talks amid protests of ‘theft’

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SEOUL (Information) – South Korean and U.S. officers resumed talks on Monday to slim a $four billion hole in how a lot they need Seoul to pay for the price of internet hosting the American navy amid public protests of “freeway theft” in opposition to sharply elevated U.S. calls for.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Protection Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo maintain a joint press convention after the 51st Safety Consultative Assembly (SCM) on the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 15, 2019. Jung Yeon-je/Pool through Information/File Photograph

U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand that Seoul tackle a better share of the price of stationing 28,500 U.S. troops as deterrence in opposition to North Korea has examined South Korea’s confidence within the safety alliance with Washington.

Reviews of Trump’s $5 billion demand earlier this month have been greeted with shock in Seoul and on Monday, progressive teams protested on the negotiation venue in opposition to what they mentioned was “freeway theft” by “grasping” Individuals.

South Korea’s negotiating group is led by a former prime monetary regulator with expertise in robust bargaining at occasions of disaster for Asia’s fourth-largest financial system, unprecedented in fronting a non-military knowledgeable in practically 30 years of talks for the cost-sharing offers.

James DeHart, the chief U.S. negotiator, mentioned there was plenty of work to do however sounded a word of optimism as he arrived in South Korea on Sunday.

“I’m very assured that we’ll attain an settlement that’s mutually acceptable, that either side can help, and that may finally strengthen our nice alliance,” he advised reporters.

Monday’s assembly marked the third spherical of talks for him and the second for South Korea’s Jeong Eun-bo, who was named to the job after the primary spherical in September. He was beforehand vice chairman of the Monetary Companies Fee and a deputy finance minister.

“His metier is funds, fee. I feel the (South Korean) authorities determined that was the experience wanted this time,” mentioned an individual who had labored with Jeong, declining to be recognized due to the sensitivity of the continuing talks.

Jeong was concerned in South Korea’s debt negotiations with worldwide monetary businesses in the course of the 1998 Asian monetary disaster, and foreign money swap offers in the course of the 2008 world monetary disaster, the individual mentioned.

A South Korean lawmaker mentioned earlier this month that U.S. officers had demanded as much as $5 billion a 12 months, greater than 5 occasions the 1.04 trillion gained ($896 million) Seoul agreed to pay this 12 months.

South Korea “is a rich nation and will and will pay extra”, U.S. Secretary of Protection Mark Esper mentioned after his assembly with South Korea’s Protection Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo final week.

Trump has lengthy railed in opposition to what he says are insufficient contributions from allies in direction of protection prices. The US is because of start separate negotiations for brand spanking new protection cost-sharing offers with Japan, Germany and NATO subsequent 12 months.

Trump has floated the concept of pulling U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula, which stays in a technical state of conflict below a truce that suspended the 1950-53 Korean Battle.

South Korea’s Protection Ministry denied studies on some South Korean YouTube channels that U.S. troops could be withdrawn or decreased.

Esper “reaffirmed the dedication to keep up the present stage of U.S. forces in Korea and to enhance their fight readiness” final week, the Protection Ministry press workplace mentioned on its Twitter feed.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Extra reporting by Ju-min Park; Enhancing by Jack Kim and Lincoln Feast.