US-South Korea Talks on Trump’s $5bn Troop Payment Demand Collapse After Just 80 Minutes

$5bn is politically impossible for Seoul as South Koreans understand the US is on the peninsula for its own reasons

Washington forced the deployment of THAAD in 2017 against popular and government resistance, yet now wants tribute for its presence — the US did not land in 1945 for the sake of Koreans, and has not stayed for over 70 years out of the goodness of its heart

The United States broke off talks with South Korea on increasing Seoul’s contribution to the costs of hosting U.S. troops, after the two sides failed to narrow their differences on Tuesday in a row that has raised questions about the American deployment.

The breakdown in talks was a rare public sign of discord in the “airtight” alliance that has for 70 years formed a buffer against North Korean aggression, with each side blaming the other for being unprepared to compromise on sharing the costs of keeping 28,500 U.S. military personnel in South Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted that South Korea pay more – and has also suggested pulling the troops out altogether.

“It is true that there is a substantial difference between the U.S. side’s overall proposal and the principles we pursue,” South Korean negotiator Jeong Eun-bo told a news conference. “The talks could not proceed as planned as the U.S. side left first.”

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war under a truce, not a peace treaty, that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

The talks took place amid stalled U.S. efforts to reach a negotiated end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

South Korean lawmakers have said the United States is seeking up to $5 billion a year, more than five times the 1.04 trillion won ($890.54 million) South Korea agreed to pay this year.

Neither side has publicly confirmed the numbers, but Trump has said the U.S. military presence in and around South Korea was “$5 billion worth of protection”.

Jeong said the United States had demanded a sharp increase in South Korea’s contribution, while South Korea was seeking a “mutually acceptable” sharing of the burden.


The meeting in Seoul ended early, after about 80 minutes, followed by a rare news conference by U.S. negotiator James DeHart.

DeHart said the Americans broke off the talks to give the South Korean side “time to reconsider”.

“Unfortunately, the proposals that were put forward by the Korean negotiating team were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden sharing,” DeHart told a briefing.

Kim Hong-kyun, a former South Korean nuclear negotiator, said the collapse of the talks sent a jarring message.

“It’s upsetting that the United States is employing brinkmanship in negotiations with a key ally, which shows eroding trust in the alliance built on shared values,” he told Reuters.

The dispute has stirred debate in South Korea about the U.S. presence, with some activist groups calling for a big reduction or even a withdrawal of the force.

A group of 47 South Korean members of parliament, which must ratify any agreement, last week accused the United States of threatening to pull its troops out.

“U.S. forces are here also for their own interests, as an outpost aimed at keeping China and Russia in check,” the group said. “They can’t just pull out with a surprise tweet from Trump.”

Jeong said the United States had not raised the issue of a reduction or withdrawal of its troops.

Trump has long railed against what he says are inadequate contributions from allies towards defense costs. The United States is due to begin separate negotiations for new defense cost-sharing deals with Japan, Germany and NATO next year.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, asked if he was willing to withdraw any forces if an agreement with South Korea was not reached, declined to say what the United States might do, noting the State Department was leading the negotiations.

“South Korea is a wealthy country. They can and should contribute more,” Esper said during a trip to the Philippines.

Jeong declined to go into details of the negotiations but the Yonhap news agency reported the United States wanted South Korea to pay for more categories of expenses.

Source: Reuters

  1. Vish says

    In Al Capone’s Chicago, this is called a mafia-style shakedown.

    America ain’t in South Korea for any altruistic reason.

    America is occupying South Korea as an imperial outpost to control NE Eurasia and threaten China and Russia.

    America always acts according to its own bloodthirsty interests–which it pathetically tries to disguise behind delusional self-serving deceptions.

    And in this case, America even demands to be PAID for it no less!

  2. Séamus Ó Néill says

    The veil is slipping, the US “empire” has bankrupted itself through its genocidal thieving wars and it can’t afford to be the world’s bully any longer. Its infrastructure back in America is crumbling, its society is breaking down, its “citizens” are openly defecating in the streets etc, etc. If it doesn’t quickly rethink its worldwide strategy, it’ll be a third-world cesspit, literally !

  3. Joe says

    LOL Man the United States puts the drug cartels to shame (most learn extortion, kidnapping, use of violence to placate people, etc from school of the Americas [american funded]).Talk about a real mobster ‘pay to protect you from ourselves’. LOL

  4. Ilya says

    $5bn gets you S400s, and you are safe. Dumb, high IQ, f*cks!

  5. AriusArmenian says

    There is a very simple solution to the problems in the Korean peninsula: kick the US out of South Korea!

    The the two Korea’s can create their own security council to settle issues and work toward unification. They are one people, only divided by the dead weight of history and false narratives.

    1. CHUCKMAN says

      Of course, you are right. In theoretical terms.

      “Kick the US out?”

      How does anyone do that?

      It isn’t just America’s military power, it’s the country’s immense financial and diplomatic leverage.

      America is a determined bully with lots of dangerous toys. Three-quarters of a century of telling much of the world what to do has had its effects on the mindset of the entire Washington establishment.

      It seems to me, we will only get real change, here and in other places, as American power diminishes relatively vis-a-vis China and Russia and others.

      We are very much moving that way, but nothing of that nature happens quickly.

      Unless, I should add, we have an economic catastrophe with the collapse of America’s economy and perhaps of the dollar, a not totally unrealistic possibility.

  6. Mary E says

    So, US troops, get gone already! The Pentagon put you in there 7 decades ago – not invited by So Koreans- and you WANT to stay! But please take the offer (threat) that ding dong trump made and just leave…So Korea will be much better off as an ally of China (and Russia) and they know it! Otherwise they wouldn’t have made the defense agreement with China…The US of Crime needs that money for more wars..Just tell them:
    US- GET OUT!!!

    1. bufallobiff says

      And leave Okinawa while you’re at it…….

  7. Nick Rhynes says

    trumputin would love to withdraw al the troops from every overseas post as he’s looking to advance russian interests and further weaken the US globally.

    He’s a traitorous pos. A know-nothing spoiled coward up to his ears in russian obligations.

    1. CHUCKMAN says

      You know, Putin is just far too clever to ever use trash like Trump.

      The only way he has ever used Trump is subtly to encourage the internal America political chaos we see in the United States, chaos reflected in your comment.

      1. Canosin says

        you are implying Russia/Putin is meddling in the politics of the Divided States of Zionist America??

      2. DarkEyes says

        And of course, Mr Putin of Russia seems to be your enemy special.

      3. DarkEyes says

        Chuckman, or you are an ingnorant or you are just talking for the talk.
        You are IMO a not so nice democrat, the ones who are trying their best to hold up the coming elections and / or “who knows their are more people like you who wants to get rid of their elected and now acting President.

        You are constantly hacking on your President in most of your responses.
        You should look more “over the wall” to obtain anuanced and brider vision of the world.

        What your President is doing is to try to break down the corrupt congress, the mic, the judiciary, the deep state and a most corrupt MSM.

        Did it ever occur to you all these actions could be his own initiative to try to save what can be saved of the American Republic and to block a final takeover of the Republic and the people, by AIPAC/Israhell.
        Your Man has been blocked in his actions by the israhell Democratic Party to do the job he has been elected for by the people. But is actually blocked already for nearly three years up till now by the communists of your country.

        If Mr Trump might be impeached thru Circus Schiff the American Republic IMO is lost.

        1. Joe says

          We have another ‘Trump is playing 4-D chess’ type folks. LOL Man doesn’t event know simple Geography but somehow he’s involved in a in-depth game to shift the imperial regime…how desperate are you to delude yourself to that point (there is many like you, just go to Zerohedge LOL). When a man like that becomes your last hope, you know the empire is entering its final stage. RIP.

      4. Nick Rhynes says

        putin is above using the potus? OK, lol.

      5. James Willy says

        Wow. A new addition to my block list. The arzewipe that just wrote the comment Chuck refers to. How can anyone write that kind of thing? I read it first then hit block. ……………..Shakes Head.

    2. JustPassingThrough says


      you really live up to your avatar.
      a real drainage ditch.

      A rhyne, rhine/rhyne, or reen is drainage ditch, or canal, used to turn areas of wetland at around sea level into useful pasture.

      1. Ilya says

        This factoid, will be good for my scrabble, thanks! 🙂

    3. DarkEyes says

      You are totally beside the point. IMO.

    4. Ilya says

      So you presume the US prospers from global Empire? Short term thinking historically.

      1. Joe says

        The lifestyle known today in the states arised from the empire the Zionist created after WWII. ‘King Petro Dollar’ and IMF made sure of it. Do you really believe people would be enjoying the lavishness that existed from the 50’s onward had it not been for that? With Britain bedridden, the Zionist had to perch themselves elsewhere.

      2. Nick Rhynes says

        I’d prefer it not to be our strength but it is, right now.

        I don’t believe it’s a good long term strategy at all.

        But ther’s a right and wrong way to wind it down.

        1. Ilya says

          The only way that it will happen is if the US says ‘we are ending our Empire’, and all the troops leave for home.

          Spend that 5% of GDP that now goes on the MIC anyway you like domestically though. Build infrastructure, retrain/repurpose troops, pay off some debt.. only way to stop dollar collapse is to stop spending 5% of GDP on a military that fails to defend your own borders.

          1. Joe says

            People fail to understand: The US Dollar needs the world to keep buying (useless treasury bonds and securities) it in order to subsidize the life of the plebs back home and its military. Otherwise the people in the states wouldn’t be able to eat out 3 times a day and spend like they do.

            1. Ilya says

              Agreed, but aside from financing the 5% deficit, the US could survive without Empire. And that 5% deficit is the spend on the military, which could easily be 0.5% of GDP or less if the US were armed and neutral.

            2. Joe says

              Yes and no. Reduction in imperial forces=less treasury bonds, securities, and dollars bought [countries not afraid of being brought ‘democracy’. No turning back from the de-dollarization of the world economy (thank you Bush, Obama, and trump)]=tumbling dollar [Imperial sanctions wouldn’t work because there wouldn’t be a military arm to enforce them]=monumental reduction in the living standard in the US=no 3 meals a day eating out. So, the deficit itself is binged on the current status maintained by the cartel’s military arm, if not it’d be much higher. The trillion of dollars that could have been spent internally are long gone and never coming back. The Fed can print itself to death trying, but life is like that for us individually and nations states alike; there’s no turning back, the damage is done.

  8. CHUCKMAN says

    The enduring situation of North and South Korea with a lack of peace or any normal relations is pretty much the work of American policy and occupation.

    North Korea only went through the huge sacrifice, for a relatively poor state, of developing nuclear weapons because it had endured three years of American carpet-bombing, killing one-fifth of its entire population during the Korean War.

    America has always wanted North Korea to disappear, if not in an active war, then at least through the effects of strenuous sanctions and punishments. It has mostly never even talked to North Korea, until recently, and that effort now appears to have badly failed.

    America has always wanted unification of the Koreas, but under American terms.

    The troops have never been in Korea just to keep peace or to defend democracy.

    The fact is that South Korea, for most of its history, was governed by a series of slightly disguised authoritarian administrations. There was no democracy.

    The United States was pleased, just as it was pleased with the series of tyrants who ran the artificially-created South Vietnam for some years.

    As a side-effect of recent contacts, the leaders of North and South have established a relationship, an encouraging one. They are both quite intelligent and open to change. Moon is the most promising leader the South has had.

    I think the two Korean leaders could, over a bit of time, iron things out themselves. There is a lot of goodwill. But the United States, without openly saying so, stands squarely in the way of that happening.

    As in so many things, Washington’s view is “My way or the highway.”

    I expect no breakthroughs. Washington is completely unwilling to make any serious goodwill moves, as with removing sanctions. And it is clearly keeping a tight rein on Moon in the South, so that he is not free to deal with the North.

    Kim would be wise just to keep his nuclear arsenal in good shape, and I’m sure he knows that. He would very much like to be better integrated into the wide world, but the United States is not going to permit that.

    The troops on the border between North and South are not just there for the Koreas. They form a sizable army – heavily equipped, nuclear-supported, and readily reinforced – within marching distance, or a short sea trip, of China.

    And to add to the confusion and mess that prevails, along comes Trump demanding billions of dollars more from the South for its “defense.”

    I wish there was something encouraging, but I fear there is not, not at all.

    Trump’s Korean initiative has turned into something as stupid and indecisive as his efforts in Iran or Syria or…you name it.

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