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S. Korea should pay less defense cost to U.S.: Seongnam mayor

2017/01/03 10:17

SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, one of the leading presidential hopefuls for the opposition bloc, said Tuesday that South Korea should pay less of the defense-cost sharing with the United States, clashing with calls by President-elect Donald Trump's plan to get Washington's allies to contribute more.

"South Korea's defense-sharing cost should be on par with that of Japan," Lee said during an interview with CBS Radio.

"Germany and Japan pay 18 percent and 50 percent, respectively, while South Korea shares stand at 77 percent," he claimed.

Lee said the U.S. military presence in the country reflects Washington's own interests and not that of South Korea. The mayor added the U.S. will suffer a great loss if it pulls its military out of South Korea.

Seoul and Washington have been sharing the cost of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea under the special Measures Agreement.

According to the survey conducted last week by Yonhap News Agency and KBS, South Korea's top newswire and broadcaster, respectively, Lee had an approval rating of 12.4 percent, placing him third after Moon Jae-in, a leading member of the main opposition Democratic Party, and former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap) Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr

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