US Defense Secretary Mark Esper met South Korea’s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo in Seoul on Friday (August 9), amid a series of regional challenges ranging from tensions between Seoul and Tokyo to how much of the cost South Korea should pay for American troops stationed there.
Esper arrived in Seoul on Thursday (August 8) a day after President Donald Trump said South Korea agreed to “pay a lot more” to shoulder costs required for the upkeep of 28,500 US troops in South Korea and that talks are underway to discuss the issue.
Esper and Jeong were expected to discuss a number of issues, including the security situation on the Korean peninsula, coordinate policy to foster denuclearization and lasting peace, as well as key alliance issues, according to the defense ministry.
The trip comes after North Korea recently carried out a series of missile tests. On Tuesday (August 6), Esper said the United States would not overreact to the short-range missile launches by North Korea and would keep the door open to talks with Pyongyang.
He also added that, despite complaints by North Korea, there was no plan to alter future joint military drills with Seoul.