Saturday December 14, 2019
Home Lead Story U.S. And S.Ko...

U.S. And S.Korea Struggle Over Maintenance Cost of U.S. Troops

The U.S. embassy spokesman declined to comment, citing “confidential diplomatic discussions.”

0
//
South Korea
North Korean army soldiers watch the south side while South Korean, left, and U.S. Army soldiers stand guard at the truce villages of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, July 27, 2014. VOA

The United States and South Korea are struggling to narrow differences over sharing the cost of maintaining U.S. troops after a U.S. demand for a 50 percent increase in the South’s contribution, a South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday.

Despite 10 rounds of talks since March, the allies have failed to strike an accord to replace a 2014 deal that expired last year, which requires South Korea to pay about 960 billion won ($848 million) a year for keeping some 28,500 U.S. troops there.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that South Korea, where the United States has stationed soldiers since the 1950-53 Korean War, should bear more of the cost. The U.S. military has warned Korean workers on its bases they might be put on leave from mid-April if no deal is reached.

South Korea
U.S. and South Korean soldiers salute during a change of command and responsibility ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, a U.S. military base, in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 11, 2017. VOA

Sudden, higher US demand

At their last meeting, in December, the United States made a “sudden, unacceptable” demand that South Korea pay more than 1.4 trillion won per year, about 1.5 times its current contribution, according to Hong Young-pyo, a senior ruling party legislator.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha briefed a group of lawmakers on the talks Monday. Any deal is subject to parliamentary approval.

“The negotiations were deadlocked,” Hong told a meeting with lawmakers. “The U.S. side suddenly made a proposal at the last stage which was difficult for us to accept.”

A spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Seoul declined to comment.

No further meetings scheduled

When asked about the U.S. demand Monday, Kang declined to specify numbers but said there was a “very big difference” in the positions between the two countries.

South Korea
A U.S. Army captain learns a few Korean terms from two Korean Army soldiers during the 2016 Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises in Yongin, South Korea, Aug. 25, 2016. VOA

“We’ll work to reach an agreement that’s reasonable, affordable and explainable to the National Assembly and the people,” Kang told reporters.
Kang Seok-ho, another lawmaker who attended the foreign minister’s briefing, said the government’s stance was not to pay more than 1 trillion won a year and an agreement should be valid for five years, not one year as reportedly sought by the United States.

With another meeting not scheduled, the stalemate raises concerns about the funding gap and the posture of the 70-year alliance amid signs of a rift over North Korea policy.

About 70 percent of South Korea’s contribution covers the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the U.S. military.

Exercises suspended

Trump announced a halt to joint exercises with South Korea in June, after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying they were very expensive and paid for mostly by the U.S.

Major joint exercises have since been suspended, which Washington said would expedite talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear program, though some small-scale exercises have continued.

Korea
North Korean army soldiers are greeted by South Korean army soldiers, wearing helmets, as they cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post in Cheorwon. VOA

U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris met South Korea’s national security advisor Chung Eui-yong late last month to urge a swift agreement, warning that the United States may consider implementing the defense treaty “in a different way,” South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified diplomatic source.

South Korea’s foreign ministry confirmed Harris had visited Chung but declined to give details.

Also Read: The United States Of America Starts Pulling Out Troops From Syria

The U.S. embassy spokesman declined to comment, citing “confidential diplomatic discussions.”

North Korean state media has recently increased complaints about South Korea’s military ties to the United States, but South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, has said reducing U.S. military commitments would be an unlikely option for Washington. (VOA)

Next Story

Top 5 Tourist Places in South Korea’s Incheon

Here are the top five attractions in Incheon, South Korea

0
Incheon tourism
Consider sparing some time in Incheon when you visit South Korea and visit these tourist attractions. Pixabay

If you are headed to the Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea, chances are you will land in the Incheon International Airport, which is a short drive away from the mega city of Seoul. If you have some time to spare in Incheon, consider seeing these attractions.

Songdo Central Park

Songdo Central Park, a 1.8-kilometre seawater park is situated among the skyscrapers of Songdo. It has a walking path and a bicycle path, where visitors can take in the view of sunlight sparkling across the seawater as they enjoy a day out in the park. The view becomes even more mesmerizing after nightfall as the buildings light up around the park.

Visit the Deer farm here to see deer grazing on grass and Tribowl for a cultural space that offers various exhibitions, conferences and performances. Incheon has a river that crosses from east to west, where visitors can enjoy various water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, riding a family boat and more.

songdo Incheon
Songdo Central Park, a seawater park, is situated among the skyscrapers of Songdo. Pixabay

Moraenae Market

Located in the central area of Incheon in Guwol-dong, this traditional market was established in May 1982, when merchants started selling products on a sandy street using mere display stands. Moraenae Market first started as a wholesale market selling agricultural and fisheries products, then expanded to selling clothes, dishes, fisheries, and other diverse items. Due to the large traffic of customers compared to other traditional markets, Moraenae Market is known for keeping products up-to-date with fresh and trendy items.

National Institute of Biological Resources

The National Institute of Biological Resources is the largest collection preservation facility in Asia with approximately 6,000 species on display as of October 2019. Unlike some museums, all the specimens on display were collected from roadkills or those that faced natural deaths. Some of the species that can only be seen at this facility include Korean rose bitterling, Korean hare and white forsythia. Last fox specimen found in Korea can also be seen on display.

Incheon Grand Park

Incheon
The Incheon Subway system makes it easier to travel around. Pixabay

A treasure in the middle of the city, Incheon Grand Park is an urban nature park that provides greenery and fresh air. As the only large-scale nature park in Incheon, the park holds an arboretum, children zoo, bicycle square, rose garden and more. Various animals and plants can be seen at the arboretum and the zoo, while those looking for peace and relaxation can walk around the Lake Garden listening to the calming sound of water flowing down the stair waterfall. The most popular course in the park, Forest of Healing, has a forest walking course that serves as the perfect activity for nature therapy. Due to the park’s large size, visitors are recommended to rent a bike to get see everything the park has to offer.

Gyeongin ARA Waterway

Gyeongin ARA Waterway connects Hangang River to the Yellow Sea with an observatory, artificial waterfall, Sculpture Park and other attractions along the way. It also has an 18.2-kilometre long bicycle path that follows the waterway where many visitors enjoy riding bicycles, while others are content by taking a relaxing stroll on the promenade.

Also Read- The Best Destinations for a Perfect Travel Experience

If you want to come to Incheon on a relaxed day, Seoul Metropolitan Subway lines not only cover Seoul but also other provinces including Gyeonggi-do, Incheon, Chungcheongnam-do and Gangwon-do.

Tip: It’s easy to tour around Incheon by the Incheon subway system. (IANS)