WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that “South Korea has agreed to pay substantially more money to the United States in order to defend itself from North Korea,” adding that “the relationship between the two countries is a very good one!”
Trump said in a series of Twitter posts that “over the past many decades, the U.S. has been paid very little by South Korea.”
The president noted, however, that “last year, at the request of President Trump, South Korea paid $990,000,000.”
“South Korea is a very wealthy nation that now feels an obligation to contribute to the military defense provided by the United States of America,” Trump tweeted.
In February, Washington and Seoul agreed to extend the deployment of 28,500 US troops in the Asian nation for another year at a cost to the South Korean government of $925 million.
The agreement represents an increase of approximately 8 percent in South Korea’s contribution to defense spending.
The deal expires in December and some media outlets have reported that the Trump administration wants South Korea to double its defense contribution.
On Monday, South Korea and the United States began joint military maneuvers amid strong opposition from the North Korean regime, which has conducted a series of missile tests in the past two weeks.
The allies are conducting the maneuvers in a new format after deciding to scale them down as agreed in inter-Korean summits and the meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Trump with a view to reducing tensions and fostering dialogue.
The Dong Maeng exercises, which follow the earlier Key Resolve and Foal Eagle maneuvers, will take place over a period of about two weeks and include a drill on how to handle a military emergency on the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday.
Despite a smaller deployment of troops than in previous years, the exercises have provoked strong protests from Pyongyang, which claimed through state media that the maneuvers would be a “clear violation of the spirit” of what was agreed at the spontaneous summit between Trump and Kim on June 30.
South Korea is the No. 7 trade partner for the United States, while the United States is South Korea’s No. 2 trade partner, trailing only China.