Vastavam web: With Joe Biden’s projected victory in the U.S. presidential election, South Korean officials are expecting a win of their own in a drawn-out, multi-billion dollar dispute with Washington over the cost of thousands of U.S. troops on the peninsula. Officials and experts in Seoul don’t expect Biden to entirely drop the demand that South Korea pay more toward maintaining the roughly 28,500 U.S. troops that are stationed in the country as a legacy of the technically unfinished 1950-1953 Korean War.
But Biden has promised not to use the troop presence to “extort” South Korea, and South Korean government sources say they anticipate his administration would agree to a deal close to Seoul’s proposal to pay 13% more, or around $1 billion per year. A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment, and South Korean officials say it’s unclear how deeply his team has thought about the exact outlines of a new Special Measures Agreement (SMA).
“But the 13% increase discussed in past negotiations could be considered reasonable,” said one South Korean government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic negotiations. “We will know more when we actually sit down with their team after the new administration names a new negotiator or reappoints the incumbent, but at least there is more predictability now and a Biden White House wouldn’t veto a nearly done deal at the last minute,” the official added.