South Korea agrees to pay more for hosting US troops in 2021

  • The deal ends a long stalemate that had strained relations between allies after the Trump administration demanded a five-fold increase in Seoul's contributions.
South Korean and US Army, left, soldiers patrol during a rehearsal.(AP / File Photo)
South Korean and US Army, left, soldiers patrol during a rehearsal.(AP / File Photo)
Published on Mar 10, 2021 09:00 PM IST
Copy Link
AP | | Posted by Kunal Gaurav, Washington

Striking a delicate balance, the United States and South Korea have agreed Seoul will pay 13.9% more this year for hosting American troops as part of a multiyear deal crafted to keep Seoul's share of the overall cost within historical norms, officials said Wednesday.

The deal, which had been announced earlier this week but without financial details, ends a long stalemate that had strained relations between allies after the Trump administration demanded a five-fold increase in Seoul's contributions.

President Joe Biden's willingness to quickly accept smaller increases is cast by the State Department as evidence that the Biden administration wants to repair relations with key allies in East Asia as it focuses on regional unity in confronting China and North Korea.

The State Department announced Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Tokyo and Seoul next week for security consultations to “reaffirm the United States’ commitment to strengthening our alliances.” Blinken will be joined in both meetings by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who also will visit India.

American and South Korean officials, in separate briefings for reporters in Washington and Seoul, said the 13.9% increase will apply to the South Korean government's payments this year. In each of the following four years, the increase will match increases in Seoul's national defense budget.

The previous agreement had expired at the end of 2019; the new deal covers 2020 retroactively by keeping South Korea's payment the same as 2019 at about 1.04 trillion Korean won, or the equivalent of about $910 million at current exchange rates. For this year, Seoul agreed to pay 1.18 trillion won, or about $1 billion. That is a 13.9% increase, which a State Department official said is the largest since 2004.

Overall, South Korea will be paying about 44% of the overall cost of having American troops based on the peninsula, not counting US military and civilian salaries. The State Department said that is similar to Seoul's share over many years. The US has about 28,500 troops in South Korea.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • After registering around 4,000 to 5,000 deaths per day throughout most of the winter, Europe is currently seeing around 500 deaths per day, about the same level as during the summer of 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

    Europe to see 'high levels' of Covid this summer: WHO

    With the milder but more contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5 spreading across the continent, the 53 countries in the WHO European region are currently registering just under 500,000 cases daily, according to the organisation's data. That is up from around 150,000 cases daily at the end of May. Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal were the countries with the highest incidence rates, with almost all countries in the region seeing a rise in cases.

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

    China says New Zealand PM's comments on assertiveness ‘wrong’

    China's embassy in New Zealand rebuked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for comments she made at the NATO summit about Chinese assertiveness, calling them "misguided" and "wrong". Ardern said on Wednesday in Madrid that China has "in recent times also become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms." New Zealand, which is heavily reliant on China for trade, has often shied away from direct criticism of Beijing.

  • The North has claimed the Covid wave has shown signs of subsiding, though experts suspect under-reporting in the figures released through government-controlled media.

    North Korea blames 'alien things' near border with South for Covid outbreak

    Quicked is empty for story with id 101656633439621

  • Abortion-rights activists demonstrate against the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    Florida, Kentucky judges ‘temporarily’ block states from enforcing abortion ban 

    Judges in Florida and Kentucky on Thursday moved to block those states from enforcing bans or restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had established a nationwide right to it. In Kentucky, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing a ban passed in 2019 and triggered by the Supreme Court's decision.

  • Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

    In Ketanji Jackson, US Supreme Court gets its 1st black woman justice

    Quicked is empty for story with id 101656607431062

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, July 01, 2022