Sko­rea agrees to pay more to keep US troops

The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world -

South Korea and the United States struck a new one-year deal Sun­day that in­creases Seoul’s con­tri­bu­tion for the cost of Amer­ica’s mil­i­tary pres­ence on its soil, over­com­ing pre­vi­ous failed ne­go­ti­a­tions that caused wor­ries about their decades-long al­liance.

The devel­op­ment comes as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is set to hold his se­cond sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Viet­nam in late Fe­bru­ary.

South Korea last year pro­vided about $830 mil­lion, cov­er­ing roughly 40 per­cent of the cost of the de­ploy­ment of 28,500 U.S. sol­diers whose pres­ence is meant to de­ter ag­gres­sion from North Korea. Trump has pushed for South Korea to pay more.

On Sun­day, chief ne­go­tia­tors from the two coun­tries signed a new cost-shar­ing plan in Seoul that re­quires South Korea to pay about $924 mil­lion in 2019, Seoul’s For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment.

The state­ment said the two coun­tries reaf­firmed the need for a “stable” U.S. mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment amid the “rapidly chang­ing sit­u­a­tion on the Korean Penin­sula.” The min­istry said the U.S. as­sured South Korea that it is com­mit­ted to the al­liance and has no plans to ad­just the num­ber of its troops in South Korea.

Mean­while, U.S. fears about China and Rus­sia’s grow­ing in­flu­ence in Cen­tral Europe will top Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo’s agenda as he heads to the re­gion this week, Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said.

Pom­peo left Sun­day on a five-na­tion tour of Europe that will be­gin in Hun­gary and Slo­vakia, where he will raise those con­cerns and the im­por­tance of pro­mot­ing democ­racy and the rule of law to counter Bei­jing and Mos­cow’s ef­forts to pull the coun­tries away from the West and sow Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton, left; Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump talk in the Oval Of­fice last week. Pom­peo left Sun­day on a diplo­matic mis­sion in Cen­tral Europe, where the U.S. will ad­dress con­cerns over grow­ing Rus­sian and Chi­nese in­flu­ence in the re­gion. di­vi­sions in the Euro­pean Union and NATO.

The cen­ter­piece of the trip will be a con­fer­ence on the fu­ture of the Mid­dle East in Poland on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day that is ex­pected to fo­cus on Iran. It also will be at­tended by Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kush­ner, the Mideast peace team se­nior ad­viser.

But in Bu­da­pest and

Bratislava on Mon­day and Tues­day, Pom­peo will specif­i­cally point to is­sues re­lated to Cen­tral Europe’s re­liance on Rus­sian en­ergy and the pres­ence of the Chi­nese high-tech tele­com firm Huawei, par­tic­u­larly in Hun­gary, said of­fi­cials who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. U.S. of­fi­cials are trou­bled by Huawei’s ex­pan­sion, es­pe­cially in NATO mem­ber states where they be­lieve it poses sig­nif­i­cant in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity threats.

The of­fi­cials said Pom­peo hoped to re­verse what they called a decade of U.S. dis­en­gage­ment in Cen­tral Europe that cre­ated a vac­uum that Rus­sia and China have ex­ploited over the course of the past 10 years.

As Pom­peo de­parted, the State Depart­ment said in a state­ment Sun­day that the spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Afghan rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, Zal­may Khalilzad, would spend the rest of Fe­bru­ary trav­el­ing to Bel­gium, Ger­many, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pak­istan push­ing a U.S. peace ini­tia­tive. He has al­ready vis­ited in Europe and the Mid­dle East as part of an ex­tended diplo­matic tour.

Khalilzad said re­cent talks with the Tal­iban pro­duced a ten­ta­tive frame­work for an agree­ment but the ne­go­ti­a­tions are far from fin­ished. “We are in the early stage of a pro­tracted process,” he said. “We have a long way to go.”

On Sun­day in south­ern Afghanistan, at least 10 civil­ians were killed and sev­eral oth­ers wounded dur­ing U.S. airstrikes over the week­end, lo­cal of­fi­cials and res­i­dents in Hel­mand prov­ince said.

Two res­i­dents of the San­gin dis­trict of Hel­mand said eight mem­bers of a sin­gle fam­ily were killed by airstrikes in one house and two more in a nearby struc­ture, among them women and chil­dren. Mo­ham­mad Hasim Alokozai, a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from Hel­mand, put the death toll higher, say­ing that 14 civil­ians were killed and six wounded in the two houses.

Sgt. 1st Class De­bra Richard­son, a U.S. mil­i­tary spokes­woman in Kabul, said that U.S. air­craft had con­ducted airstrikes in the prov­ince Fri­day night and early Sat­ur­day morn­ing, but that she could not say whether civil­ians had been killed. She said airstrikes were called in af­ter a Tal­iban in­sur­gent fired at Afghan and Amer­i­can forces from a civil­ian area.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.