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Trump repeats claim Korea agreed to pay more for US troops

US President Donald Trump (AFP-Yonhap)
US President Donald Trump (AFP-Yonhap)

US President Donald Trump told a press briefing Thursday that South Korea had agreed to pay “substantial money” to the US for the upkeep of the 28,500 American troops stationed here, repeating what he had told Reuters a week earlier.

“It costs us a lot of money. And if we’re going to defend countries, they should also respect us by making a contribution,” Trump said.

The Trump administration is reportedly pushing Korea to pay about $1.3 billion, a whopping 49 percent more than Korea paid last year and roughly four times the amount that Seoul and Washington shook hands on for an interim deal last March.

Trump openly rejected the deal and has since pressed Korea to shoulder a greater share of the defense costs.

A senior US official said $1.3 billion was final and rational, compared with the $5 billion floated initially by Trump.

The Korean government was adamant on its position, meanwhile, with one senior official saying, “We can reach agreement tomorrow if we see some rational numbers. But we can’t be on board with $1.3 billion.”

The official also disagreed that the US had shown flexibility and offered reasonable choices to finalize the cost-sharing pact, saying the cost hike was not agreeable in light of the history of cost sharing between the two countries.

By Choi Si-young (