It’s been called the most militarized border in the world. The border between North Korea and South Korea is manned by tens of thousands of troops on each side, with almost one million land mines in between. The capital of South Korea, Seoul, lies just 37 miles away. The U.S. has been guarding the border against a North Korean Invasion for almost 70 years. The South Koreans pay for some of it, but now President Trump wants them to pay a much bigger price, starting next year.
The price tag? A mere $5 billion, or five times what the South Koreans paid this year.
Given the huge gap between the two sides, the South Korean and U.S. officials broke off talks on Tuesday after speaking for only about an hour.
Officials had resumed a planned two-day negotiation on Monday, trying to narrow a $4 billion gap in what they believe South Korea should contribute for the cost of stationing U.S. troops in the country for next year.
Referring to the cost-sharing deal’s official name, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said:
“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 U.S. for the past 28 years. The U.S. believes that the share of defense spending should be increased significantly by creating a new category.”
Lee Hye-hoon, head of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee, said in a radio interview on Tuesday the U.S. ambassador to South Korea talked to her at length earlier this month about how Seoul had been only paying one-fifth what it should have been paying for the cost of stationing U.S. troops.
Ruling party lawmakers have said this week they will “refuse to ratify any excessive outcome of the current negotiations” that deviate from the established principle and structure of the agreements for about 30 years.
President Trump has criticized several allies around the world for not bearing their share of security costs.