Democratic Representative Grace Meng said President Donald Trump is destabilizing the U.S.’s relationship with South Korea by demanding the Asian country pay a greater share of military costs.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in South Korea Friday that Seoul needed to contribute more toward the cost of hosting U.S. troops. President Donald Trump has demanded the Asian nation pay about $5 billion, or five times the amount of its current one-year deal, Chosun Ilbo reported last week.
Shortly after Esper’s comments, Meng tweeted a letter asking him and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to “devise a better strategy that values the alliance,” adding that such a hike would be “extorting” South Korea.
In the letter, Meng said such a request also “puts U.S. national security and economic interests in jeopardy.” She asked the U.S. officials to “reconsider and engage in good faith negotiations.”
Esper met with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo as part of an eight-day trip through Asia. Speaking Friday to reporters in Seoul, he said South Korea is a “wealthy country” that can afford to pay more. Trump in August tweeted that Seoul has been contributing “very little” but “agreed to pay substantially more money” in defending itself against North Korea.
Foreign Policy reported that the Trump administration has asked Japan to pay about four times its current annual dues for U.S. military presence. Tokyo is set to pay 197 billion yen ($1.8 billion) this year under a five-year deal signed in 2016.