South Korea is a wealthy country and should increase its share of the cost for stationing some 28,500 USA troops on the divided peninsula by the end of year deadline, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday.
During a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart on Friday, Esper lauded the United States' "very strong alliance" with Seoul, but added: "Korea is a wealthy country and should and could pay more to help offset the cost of defense".
South Korea had proposed talks with North Korea on how to handle its facilities in the resort, once a rare example of cooperation between the Koreas, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last month he wanted them removed amid cooled inter-Korean relations.
America's general has warned North Korea that the USA will not hesitate to bring its full military force to bear in defense of its allies in the south, following Pyongyang's threat of escalation over stalled denuclearization talks.
That demand was made during a high-level defence policy meeting in Seoul.
Esper said that while South Korea has provided "a fair amount of support in the past", it is important to point out that "most of that money stays here in this country - easily over 90% of that money stays here in Korea, it does not go to the United States".
CNN, citing an anonymous congressional aide and an administration official, said Thursday that it has confirmed that President Donald Trump has demanded that South Korea pay almost $5 billion, as other news outlets have reported.
South Korea is paying about $1 billion this year to cover the cost of keeping roughly 28,000 US troops in the country, and Trump wants to see that increase to $4.7 billion in 2020.
Kim Jong-un has reportedly given the USA until the end of the year to come up with new proposals that could break the current impasse after talks between the two sides broke down following a meeting between the two leaders in February.
Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono and his South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, are due to meet in Thailand on Sunday.
The South Koreans also point out that they funded most of the $11 billion-plus cost of expanding Camp Humphreys, a U.S. Army post south of Seoul that has become the military's new headquarters base, as part of a separate agreement.
Jeong said he shared the view with Esper that the cost-sharing pact should be fair and mutually agreeable, according to the Yonhap News Agency, but neither official gave specific figures.
"The only ones who will benefit from expiration of GSOMIA and continued friction between Seoul and Tokyo are Pyongyang and Beijing", the Pentagon chief said.
South Korea announced in August that it will not renew the General Security of Military Information Agreement when it expires on November 23.
Relations between the neighbors plunged after South Korea's top court previous year ordered Japanese firms to compensate some wartime forced laborers.
The defense secretary also called for Seoul to maintain an intelligence-sharing pact with Washington's other Asian ally, Japan, that Seoul is about to let lapse. Japan imposed export controls on South Korea, citing unspecified security reasons.