Mon, May 01, 2017 - Page 1 News List

US security adviser reaffirms that US will pay for THAAD

Reuters, SEOUL

South Korea said the US had reaffirmed it would shoulder the cost of deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, days after US President Donald Trump said Seoul should pay for the US$1 billion battery designed to defend against North Korea.

In a telephone call yesterday, Trump’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that the US alliance with South Korea was its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, the South Korean presidential office said.

The conversation followed another North Korean missile test-launch on Saturday, which Washington and Seoul said was unsuccessful.

Trump, asked about his message to North Korea after the latest missile test, told reporters: “You’ll soon find out,” but did not elaborate on what the US response would be.

Trump’s comments in an interview on Thursday that he wanted Seoul to pay for the THAAD deployment perplexed South Koreans and raised questions about his commitment to the two countries’ alliance.

South Korean officials responded that the cost was for Washington to bear, under the bilateral agreement.

“National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster explained that the recent statements by President Trump were made in a general context, in line with the US public expectations on defense cost burden-sharing with allies,” the Blue House said in a statement, adding that McMaster requested the call.

Major elements of the THAAD system were last week moved into the planned site in Seonjgu, in the south of the country.

About 300 residents yesterday rallied as two US Army trucks tried to enter the deployment site.

Video provided by villagers showed protesters blocking the road with a car and chanting slogans such as “Don’t lie to us! Go back to your country!”

Police said they had sent about 800 officers to the site and two residents were injured during clashes with them.

Seoul and the US say the sole purpose of THAAD is to guard against North Korean missiles.

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