Following last week’s visit by four senior U.S. State Department officials, including David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which was intended to put pressure on South Korea to sharply increase its share of defense cost and to rethink its decision to scrap a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, top-level U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley are scheduled to visit South Korea on Wednesday. Washington’s pressure on Seoul regarding defense-sharing cost and the GSOMIA is expected to be stronger than ever as it started mentioning the possibility of reducing the U.S. forces in South Korea before the visit.
Chairman Milley, who is scheduled to visit Japan before coming to South Korea, spoke to reporters aboard an airplane en route to Tokyo on Monday and said that average Americans looking at the forward deployed U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan ask fundamental questions: Why are they needed there? How much does it cost? And why these wealthy nations cannot defend themselves? His remarks suggest the possibility of reducing U.S. troops stationed in South Korea if the country refuses to increase its contribution to 4.8 billion dollars,, which he says needed to convince Americans of the need to keep U.S. troops in South Korea.
Such pressure by Washington is likely to reach its peak at the Military Committee Meeting (MCM), annual talks between the JCS chairmen of South Korea and the U.S., slated to be held in Seoul on Thursday and at the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), annual meeting between defense ministers of the two countries, on Friday.
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