Amid growing criticism against the Trump administration’s demand to increase South Korea’s contributions to defense costs five times, U.S. Congress recognized South Korea’s significant contributions to the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2020, saying that it should be considered during negotiations.
According to Congress on Saturday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that it commended the Republic of Korea’s significant contributions to defense costs in the chapter on defense cost sharing by South Korea and Japan within the report that the committee prepared in the course of review of the NDAA. According to the report, South Korea’s spending on national defense, which accounts for 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product, is among the highest among the U.S. allies. The report added that South Korea has made significant financial contributions to strengthening joint security through not only by bearing direct costs including the construction of Camp Humphreys for the U.S. Forces Korea but also by spending other expenditures.
The Senate clarified that they believe it is important that negotiations over the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) between the U.S. and South Korea for the period after 2020 should be conducted by reasonably taking into consideration common interests, mutual respect and South Korea’s significant contributions. On the U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, the Senate said that they have the recognition that the troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula are necessary to deter North Korea’s aggression, and fend off its invasion when needed, adding that withdrawal of a sizable number of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula is not negotiable.
Despite such recognition by Congress, the Trump administration is expected to continue placing significant pressure on South Korea during the defense cost sharing talks that will take place in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and Thursday. During the period, President Trump plans to participate in the NATO summit that will take place in the U.K. and urge the NATO member countries to increase contributions to defense costs.