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Thu Nov 14, 2019, 07:16 PM

Trump hikes price tag for US forces in Korea almost 500% as Seoul questions alliance [View all]

Source: CNN

Washington (CNN)Secretary of Defense Mark Esper landed in South Korea on Thursday to navigate renewed threats from an "enraged" North Korea and newly heightened strain in the alliance with Seoul that congressional aides, lawmakers and Korea experts say has been caused by President Donald Trump. Trump is demanding that South Korea pay roughly 500% more in 2020 to cover the cost of keeping US troops on the peninsula, a congressional aide and an administration official confirmed to CNN.

The price hike has frustrated Pentagon officials and deeply concerned Republican and Democratic lawmakers, according to military officials and congressional aides. It has angered and unnerved Seoul, where leaders are questioning US commitment to their alliance and wondering whether Trump will pull US forces if they don't pay up. "Nothing says I love you like a shakedown," said Vipin Narang, an associate professor at MIT who follows the Korean peninsula, summarizing South Korean uncertainty their worries about the US.

In the US, congressional aides and Korea experts familiar with the talks say the President's $4.7 billion demand came out of thin air, sending State and Defense Department officials scrambling to justify the number with a slew of new charges that may include Seoul paying some costs for US personnel present on the peninsula and for troops and equipment that rotate through. Negotiations are underway as North Korean threats to step up its weapons development, deepening Seoul's anxiety. On Thursday, Pyongyang condemned US-South Korean joint military exercises, saying it was "enraged" and threatening to respond with "force in kind."

North Korea has already launched 24 missiles this year, each a violation of UN resolutions, to match the country's previous annual record for firing off projectiles that threaten South Korea and Japan, according to Bruce Klingner, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Germany, France and the United Kingdom recently condemned Pyongyang for the launches, saying they undermined regional security and stability. Meanwhile, South Korean leaders are acutely aware that Trump has downplayed the launches, saying he is "not at all" troubled by them. There are a lot of hard feelings," Klingner said of South Korean views of the US right now, adding that "people are questioning the viability of the US as an ally."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/14/politics/trump-south-korea-troops-price-hike/index.html

More allies under the bus.

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Reply Trump hikes price tag for US forces in Korea almost 500% as Seoul questions alliance [View all]
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