The South Korean and U.S. defense ministers did not discuss the drawdown of U.S. troops in the country

Earlier, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Korea said that Jeongyeong-Doo and Esper discussed issues related to security on the Korean Peninsula.

Korean Defense Minister Jeong-Kyeong Doo and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper did not discuss the drawdown of the U.S. military presence in South Korea during a telephone conversation on Tuesday. Colonel Moon Hong-sik, a representative of the Ministry of National Defense, told journalists at a briefing in Seoul.

“The participants in the conversation did not address issues related to the number of U.S. troops”, –  he stressed in answering the relevant question. The military noted that Seoul and Washington “share a common view on the important role of U.S. forces in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in North East Asia.”

According to the Defense Ministry’s earlier Tuesday report, Jeong Gyeong-Doo and Esper discussed various issues related to security in the Korean Peninsula by phone, including plans for military maneuvers and cost-sharing for joint defense. The heads of military agencies also “reaffirmed their determination to continue working on the transfer of operational control over South Korean armed forces from Washington to Seoul.

The parties “exchanged assessments of the security situation in the region, agreeing on the need to support diplomatic efforts aimed at denuclearizing North Korea and establishing lasting peace on the peninsula”. In addition, the Ministers agreed to continue working on strengthening the bilateral military alliance and maintaining readiness to respond promptly to any change in the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the U.S. authorities are considering reducing the U.S. military presence on the territory of the Republic of Korea amid the continuing disagreement between the two countries on defense spending. According to the newspaper, the plans to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel were prepared at the Pentagon and presented to U.S. President Donald Trump. The reason for the alleged lack of agreement on the US military spending in Seoul. Currently, about 28,500 US military personnel are deployed in the Republic of Korea.

In January of this year, the sixth round of negotiations on the allocation of the US military contingent costs on the Korean peninsula was inconclusively concluded. The previous agreement expired on December 31, 2019. From 2018, Washington requires an increase in the share of contributions from Seoul to the United States contingent in the Republic of Korea. South Korea’s joint defence expenditures in 2019 were increased by 8.2 per cent to 1.04 trillion won ($915 million). In November 2019, it was reported that Washington demanded that Seoul increase its contributions almost fivefold to $4.7 billion.