South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, quoting an unnamed US diplomatic source, says that President Trump is considering withdrawing 4,000 US troops from South Korea, and suggested the possibility of pulling out entirely, if South Korea doesn’t pay massive cost-sharing increases that Trump is demanding.
The US and South Korea agreed to a $920 million annual cost-sharing payment earlier this year, but Trump is now demanding $4.7 billion. South Korean officials have balked at that, and this week’s talks ended almost immediately with the US delegation leaving.
South Korean officials had previously downplayed the seriousness of the US demands, saying there was no sign the US was actually going to leave. It’s unsurprising, then, that US officials are leaking things that would benefit US negotiations to South Korea’s press .
US special representative to North Korea Stephen Biegun also bolstered this position, saying that he wants US troops to stay in South Korea but that “that doesn’t mean anybody gets a free ride.”
All of this suggests the US is going to push for Trump’s full $4.7 billion demand, though with South Korea having made defense agreements with China in recent days, the South Koreans are probably viewing US support as less and less vital.