Trump Signals South Korea Talks Over U.S. Troops Still Stalled

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump said he’s pleased the party of South Korea’s president did well in recent elections but signaled that talks over how much the U.S. ally pays to host troops are still stalled.

“South Korea’s a very wealthy nation,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. “We’re asking them to pay for a big percentage of what we’re doing, it’s not fair. The relationship is great but it’s just not a fair relationship.”

A one-year cost-sharing agreement with South Korea expired on Dec. 31 and the two nations have struggled to reach a new accord, with the U.S. initially seeking a five-fold increase in the amount of money the Seoul government contributes for American forces. South Korea last year paid about $1 billion for hosting U.S. troops.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration has indicated that it wouldn’t pay much more than it did last year, but talks with the U.S. were also complicated by the lead-up to parliamentary elections last week that Moon’s party dominated.

Trump suggested he recently rejected a South Korean payment offer, but didn’t disclose details on how much it was or when it was made.

“Now they’ve offered us a certain amount of money and I’ve rejected it,” the president said. “I’m getting a billion dollars a year, we were offered much more than that but I turned it down so that’s where we are with that.”

The breakdown comes amid a lack of talks between the U.S. and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. North Korea has ramped up testing of short-range ballistic missiles in recent weeks, though American officials have signaled they don’t see the weapons as a threat.

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