US Mulls Withdrawing Armed Forces Brigade If South Korea Refuses Spending Hike

Nellie Chapman
November 21, 2019

President Donald Trump has demanded South Korea contribute about $5 billion for hosting US troops, well above the current one-year deal where Seoul pays about $1 billion.

"Secretary Esper was in South Korea this past week where he repeatedly reiterated our ironclad commitment to (South Korea) and its people".

South Korea's defence ministry said the Chosun report was "not the official position of the US government".

"I understand that the preparing to withdraw one brigade in case negotiations with South Korea do not go as well as President Trump wants", a diplomatic source in Washington with knowledge of the negotiations was cited as saying by Chosun Ilbo.

Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. is not using the threat of troop cuts as it seeks more money from South Korea and other countries that host American service personnel. "This is a negotiation", he told reporters during a trip to Vietnam.

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"We are not threatening the allies for this".

Chosun said the potential reduction of a brigade from US troops stationed in South Korea had already been discussed with the top brass of USA forces in South Korea.

South Korea and Japan have failed to reach any agreement in their second round of WTO negotiations regarding the latter's export curbs against the former. Biegun says the "window is still open" but the North Koreans "need to seize the moment".

The U.S. dismissed a report that it was considering a withdraw of thousands of its troops to gain leverage with South Korea as the Trump administration seeks to have it pay five times more to host American service members.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has rejected an invitation by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to a regional summit next week, Pyongyang's state media said Thursday, in a stark illustration of the dire relations between the neighbours.

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