MOSCOW-Tommy Yang: Seoul agreed to demands from Washington to share more of the cost for maintaining the US forces stationed in South Korea because the option remains cheaper than boosting its own defence spending to cover the deterrence capabilities the US military presence offers, experts told Sputnik.
On Sunday, top negotiators from South Korea and the United States signed a new agreement on the cost-sharing plan for keeping the US armed forces on the Korean Peninsula, which offers deterrence to possible military aggression from North Korea. US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore.
Under the new deal, South Korea agreed to increase its contribution to the United States Forces Korea (USFK) to $923m in 2019, up from the $830m Seoul provided in 2018. Unlike the previous five-year agreement between the two countries, the new agreement is only effective for one year, which means both sides will need to return to the negotiating table in a few months to resume talks on the matter.
Since taking office two years ago, US President Donald Trump has always demanded that South Korea increase its share of the cost of the US military presence in the country. Although the new deal failed to reach the $1.6 billion per year target Trump wanted, South Korea agreed to increase its contribution to the USFK by about 11.2 percent. Political analysts pointed out that South Korea probably chose to offer concessions to the United States under the new deal to avoid facing defense budget hikes in the event Seoul needed to boost its own deterrence capabilities in case failed negotiations lead to the withdraw of the USFK.