U.S. Denies Seeking 20% Troop Funding Boost From South Korea

U.S. Denies Seeking 20% Troop Funding Boost From South Korea(Bloomberg) — The U.S. denied a report that it’s demanding South Korea pay as much as 20% more to host American troops, as funding talks between the two nations continue.The 10%-20% figure referred to in Korean media is “ungrounded speculation,” a Trump administration official said by email. U.S. negotiators will seek a “fair and equitable” outcome at the next round of talks in early January, the official said.Last month, U.S. negotiators walked out of a meeting on troop funding in Seoul after South Korea balked at a $ 5 billion price tag for hosting U.S. troops — a fivefold increase. Citing a diplomatic source it didn’t identify, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported earlier this week that the White House had dropped that demand after receiving assurances Seoul would purchase more American weapons. The increase may now be about 10%-20% above the current level of nearly $ 1 billion, the newspaper said.The deal, known as the Special Measures Agreement, technically expires at the end of this year. But both sides are likely to agree to some sort of temporary extension as they negotiate, allowing for the continued operations of about 28,500 U.S. military personnel on the peninsula.The talks with South Korea could affect other countries that host U.S. troops, as the Trump administration is seeking funding increases from other American allies.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Edward Johnson, Tom RedmondFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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