Friday, 22 February, 2019

North Korea Demands Rewards for 'Denuclearization,' Doesn't Acknowledge Summit

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha right and Timothy Betts acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the U.S. Department of State shake hands for the media before their meeting at Foreig South Korea signs deal to pay more for US troops
Ellis Copeland | 13 February, 2019, 01:44

The new agreement still requires approval from South Korea's parliament, the AP noted.

South Korea agreed to pay $920 million this year in a new defense cost-sharing deal with the United States that was signed Sunday, lifting a strain on the alliance just in time for the next U.S. Bargaining for 2020 funding is likely to restart in months.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the "very long" process of negotiating was "ultimately a very successful" one, adding that the response to the deal from other South Koreans had been "positive so far", Reuters reports.

Timothy Betts, US State Department senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements, met Kang before signing the agreement and told reporters the money represented a small but important part of South Korea's support for the alliance.

"The two countries reaffirmed. the importance of a strong South Korea-US alliance and the need for a stable stationing of the US troops", it said in a statement issued after a signing ceremony.

The Reuters report also notes that 70 percent of funds contributed by Seoul go toward salaries for approximately 8,700 South Korean workers who provide support services for the U.S. military.

But Trump told USA broadcaster CBS last week that he had "no plans" to remove United States troops from South Korea as part of a deal at the upcoming summit, although he admitted "maybe someday" he would withdraw them, adding: "It's very expensive to keep troops there".

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The allies also missed the December 31 deadline in 2013, but they managed to reach a deal a few weeks later when South Korea agreed to increase its contribution by 5.8 percent, with a 4-percent cap on the inflation rate. This would allow Washington to call for additional increases in the amount South Korea would pay for the following year.

Yonhap said the USA had previously demanded 1.13 trillion won (US$1 billion) from South Korea.

Seoul said Sunday it agreed to hike its payment for maintaining American troops on its soil, settling a dispute with its longtime ally ahead of a second summit between the USA and North Korea.

Yesterday South Korea's Olympic committee voted that Seoul, rather than the competing city of Busan, would be the city to take part in the planned joint effort with Pyongyang.

The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Meari, which it described as "one of the North's propaganda outlets", insisted in a column Monday that Washington owes "corresponding practical action" to North Korea in exchange for "active and preemptive efforts" like not bombing Japan since 2017.

During his annual State of the Union Address on February 5, Trump announced that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a second time on February 27-28 in Vietnam. Their first summit in Singapore last June resulted in Kim's vague commitment to "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", a term that his propaganda machine previously used when it argued it would only denuclearize after the US withdraws its troops from South Korea.

North Korean media taking a demanding stance on negotiations with the United States and emphasizing military resolve to uphold socialism indicate that Kim may be preparing to take a hard line on negotiations with Trump this month.

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