Malaysia to settle its problem with North Korea, says Dr M | Malaysia

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Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on February 27-28 in Vietnam, following their unprecedented meeting in June in Singapore.

A senior South Korean ruling party legislator said last month that negotiations were deadlocked after the U.S. made a "sudden, unacceptable" demand that Seoul pay more than 1.4 trillion won per year. "It's obviously very unpopular" in South Korea, says professor Tim Beal of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

The new deal, signed on Sunday, awaiting parliament approval in Seoul, would boost South Korea's contribution from 960 billion ($850m) won in 2018 to 1.03 trillion won ($890m).

Yonhap news agency reported that South Korea will provide about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019. -South Korea alliance "without producing any tangible results on denuclearization".

The plans to co-bid for the 2032 Summer Games were discussed in September.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke regularly with Trump before and after his first summit with Kim last June.

About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea, where the United States has maintained a military presence since the 1950-53 Korean War. He also has insisted that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members increase their contributions, and the issue is expected to arise soon in Japan in talks on funding the 50,000 USA troops based there.

The disagreement had raised the prospect that Mr Trump could decide to withdraw at least some troops from South Korea, as he has done in other countries like Syria.

The approximately 8 percent increase in payments by South Korea to the United States is likely to check one of the boxes on US President Donald Trump's "to do" list. The two leaders held their first unprecedented meeting in June a year ago in Singapore. -North Korea summit, Seoul officials said.

North Korea hates the drills, which it considers a rehearsal for an invasion. The signing ceremony for the deal was held Sunday afternoon at the foreign ministry in Seoul by both countries' negotiators, Chang Won-sam and Timothy Betts. The South and the US have shared the costs for the USFK since 1991, and renewed the contract every two to five years.

About 70 per cent of South Korea's contribution covers the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean employees who provide administrative, technical and other services to the U.S. military.

But Trump told U.S. broadcaster CBS last week that he had "no plans" to remove U.S. troops from South Korea as part of a deal at the upcoming summit, although he admitted "maybe someday" he would withdraw them, adding: "It's very expensive to keep troops there".

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