US 'cuts short' meeting with South Korea on military costs

US-South Korea military drill Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Seoul, Seoul-t'ukpyolsi, Korea (South) Nov 19, 2019, 01.33 PM (IST)

South Korea's defence ministry said today that talks on settling the cost of hosting US military in the country had broken off even as US negotiator James DeHart said Washington had "cut short" the meeting to give Seoul "some time to reconsider".

"Our position is that it should be within the mutually acceptable Special Measures Agreement (SMA) framework that has been agreed upon by South Korea and the US for the past 28 years," South Korea's foreign ministry said.

"The US believes that the share of defence spending should be increased significantly by creating a new category," the ministry added.

The US is seeking $5 billion a year to ensure the presence of American military in South Korea, a sum which President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded.

"Unfortunately, the proposals that were put forward by the Korean team were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden-sharing," US negotiator DeHart told reporters.

South Korea's foreign ministry said it would work to keep contributions to a "reasonable" level and "within the range that is mutually acceptable".

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had said earlier that South Korea is "a wealthy country and could and should pay more to offset the cost of defence".

Jeong Eun-bo, the South's chief negotiator said the "US side walked out first" even as DeHart said officials had "cut short" the meeting in order to allow South Korean officials more time.

The US-South Korean dispute comes as the two countries decided not to hold military exercises this month in a bid to allow North Korea to resume talks on denuclearisation which has been deadlocked for months.

Story highlights

The US is seeking $5 billion a year to ensure the presence of US military in South Korea, a sum which President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded.