Democratic U.S. candidate Joe Biden said that if elected, he will restore Washington’s alliance with Seoul and not use the threat of reducing U.S. troop levels in South Korea as a bargaining chip.
During the Trump administration, the United States and South Korea have been at odds over how much of the cost South Korea should shoulder to assist U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
President Donald Trump has said South Korea should pay more, and the opposition raised the prospect that he could push to remove at least some U.S. troops, as he has done elsewhere.
“As President, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops,” Biden wrote.
“I’ll engage in principled diplomacy and keep pressing toward a denuclearized North Korea and a unified Korean Peninsula while working to reunite Korean Americans separated from loved ones in North Korea for decades,” he wrote.
Earlier this month, cost-sharing talks were a central sticking point during an annual security meeting between Defence Minister Suh Wook and U.S. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper.
The U.S. military said this month that it would put nearly 9,000 South Korean workers on unpaid leave from April in the absence of an agreement on the sharing of costs of maintaining 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea.