The U.S. and South Korea have reached a tentative cost-sharing agreement for the continued presence of U.S. troops there, the U.S. State Department confirmed Tuesday.
South Korea has been providing about $848 million a year to support the costs of helping approximately 28,500 U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, under an agreement that expired in December. CNN reported Monday that under the terms of the new agreement, Korea would pay roughly $1 billion a year.
“The United States and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement in principle on a new Special Measures Agreement,” the State Department said in a statement. “Both sides are committed to working out remaining technical issues as quickly as possible.”
The announcement of the agreement came on the eve of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. Getting allies to pay more for their own defenses has been a key theme of the president’s agenda since his campaign, and it was one of the reasons Trump cited for canceling major war game exercises between the U.S. and Seoul last year.
This weekend during a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS, Trump said he was intent on keeping U.S. forces there, even as he negotiates with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a potential denuclearization agreement.
“We haven’t talked about anything else,” Trump told CBS. “Maybe someday. I mean who knows. But you know it’s very expensive to keep troops there. You do know that. We have 40,000 troops in South Korea, it’s very expensive. But I have no plans, I’ve never even discussed removing them.”
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."