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US pressures South Korea on military cost, intel sharing

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, third from left, and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, right, hold a meeting Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by AP)

Frank Smith
Press TV, Seoul

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul Friday. The Unites States is piling the pressure on South Korea to boost its portion of the cost of deploying American troops, to renew Seoul’s commitment to intelligence sharing with Japan, and for the possibility of South Korean forces to contribute to US overseas conflicts.

South Korea said it will withdraw from GSOMIA - an intelligence sharing agreement between Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo - because of recent export restrictions levied against South Korea by Japan. Seoul demands an end to Tokyo’s trade measures, and has bristled at demands from Washington to increase its contribution to US forces.

South Korea this year pays nearly one billion dollars to reimburse the deployment of nearly 30,000 US troops in the country. US President Donald Trump has said he wants Seoul’s contribution raised five-fold, to as much as 5 billion dollars. He's also warned that he may pull US forces out of South Korea altogether. 

Outside South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense activists argued against the renewal of the intel agreement, and called out Washington over what many see as a heavy-handed mercenary strategy. 

South Korea in August dispatched a naval destroyer on an anti-piracy mission to the Gulf of Aden, amid concerns the US might request the ship be redeployed to the Strait of Hormuz, against Iran. 

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