US walks out of defence talks with South Korea: Seoul

SEOUL, Nov 19: The United States walked out of talks on hiking South Korea's contribution for American troops on its soil, Seoul said Tuesday, as Washington accused its ally of rebuffing a "fair and equitable" agreement.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded the South pay more towards the costs of the 28,500 troops Washington stations in the South to defend it against the nuclear-armed North.
Seoul officials say Washington is seeking $5 billion from its treaty partner next year -- a fivefold increase -- raising concerns the issue will undermine their alliance.
The latest round of talks broke down in Seoul on Tuesday "because the US side walked out first", said Jeong Eun-bo, the South's chief negotiator.
His US counterpart James DeHart said Washington had "cut short" the meeting to give Seoul "some time to reconsider".
"Unfortunately, the proposals that were put forward by the Korean team were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden-sharing," DeHart told reporters.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on a visit to Seoul last week that South Korea was "a wealthy country and could and should pay more to offset the cost of defence".
The Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that governs cost-sharing for American troops in South Korea has been in place since 1991, and in February Seoul agreed to an eight percent contribution increase for this year, to around $890 million. AFP