In an apparent move to reduce South Korea's financial contribution to maintaining the 28,500 United States Forces Korea troops here, the government has proposed purchasing up to $1 billion worth of U.S. weapons, officials directly involved with the issue told The Korea Times, Thursday.
"The South Korean team in the defense cost-sharing negotiations suggested a revised proposal to the United States. This included Korea's plan to purchase up to $1 billion worth of U.S. weapons by the end of 2020," one official said.
"The government is seeking more inventive ways and applicable plans to reduce U.S. pressure on Seoul to pay more for defense. On a possible shopping list of U.S.-made defense products for South Korea could be advanced surveillance aircraft, along with the possible co-development of an anti-missile system between South Korean and U.S. defense contractors," another official said.
"The Trump administration is viewing the defense-cost sharing deal as a cost-benefit analysis. That means Trump's demand for $5 billion was arbitrary as he only wants the U.S. to pay less."
The government's position is that this isn't a form of U.S. economic protectionism as it also has key security ramifications. Defense analysts say mixing U.S. weapons with other countries' defense systems could possibly lead to the discovery of weaknesses in the American products.
The latest round of defense cost-sharing talks were broken off after the U.S. asked for roughly $5 billion to cover USFK expenditure, over five times the roughly $800 million South Korea paid for this year. Seoul had previously agreed to cover 90 percent of the $10.7 billion cost of relocating U.S. military bases in the capital, and still provides land rent-free for current installations. (end of excerpt)
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