President Trump wants South Korea to foot the bill for a $1 billion U.S. missile defense system in addition to is actually threatening to kill the free trade deal between the two countries.
His comments aren’t sitting well with officials in South Korea, a key American ally in Asia.
“I informed South Korea the idea would likely be appropriate if they pay,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “of which’s a billion dollar system.”
He was talking about the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which is actually being deployed in South Korea in an effort to reduce the threat via North Korean missiles.
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The THAAD deployment has already caused tensions inside South Korea in addition to hurt the country’s relations with China. Trump’s comments are likely to further complicate the situation.
“the idea’s collateral damage to the [U.S.-South Korea] alliance,” said Euan Graham, director of the Lowy Institute’s international security program.
South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo has repeatedly said his country won’t bear the cost of the system. His ministry stuck to of which stance following Trump’s remarks.
“There has been no change in our basic position of which the South Korean government provides the site in addition to infrastructure for THAAD … in addition to the U.S. side shoulders the cost of its deployment, operation in addition to maintenance,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday.
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Washington in addition to Seoul first announced plans for the deployment of the THAAD system in July, before Trump’s election. The two countries have a mutual defense treaty, in addition to more than 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.
“We’re going to protect them,” Trump told Reuters. “yet they should pay for of which, in addition to they understand of which.”
On the campaign trail, Trump frequently said South Korea in addition to additional key U.S. allies should pay more for the defense provided by the U.S.
THAAD is actually unpopular among a significant portion of the South Korea public in addition to has become a key issue ahead of the country’s presidential election on May 9. Parts of the system arrived at the deployment site This particular week, with officials saying the idea would likely be operational “inside the coming days.”
Related: Anti-missile system in South Korea operational in ‘coming days’
The current frontrunner inside the election, Moon Jae-in, has taken a lukewarm position toward THAAD in addition to argued the system should not to be installed until a brand new administration is actually elected.
Trump’s comments help exacerbate the feeling “of which Korea is actually being bypassed on its own national concerns,” Graham said.
China has made its opposition to THAAD clear by putting pressure on South Korean companies in addition to the country’s tourism industry.
Related: South Korean company to China: Don’t blame us for THAAD missiles
Trump also caused confusion in South Korea by telling Reuters he intends to renegotiate or terminate the free trade pact between the U.S. in addition to South Korea, describing the idea as a “horrible” deal. The agreement will be targeted for renegotiation after his government finishes an overhaul of NAFTA with Canada in addition to Mexico, he said.
His comments were more combative than those of his Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier This particular month told business leaders in South Korea of which the U.S. government would likely work with them to “reform” the trade deal.
South Korea has yet to receive an official request to negotiate the trade deal, a senior official of the country’s Trade Ministry told sy88pgw. The ministry is actually trying to figure out why Trump made his latest remarks about the agreement, said the official, who declined to be identified by name.
— James Griffiths in addition to Pamela Boykoff contributed to This particular report.
sy88pgw (Hong Kong) First published April 28, 2017: 2:36 AM ET