Biegun calls for ‘renewal’ of S. Korea-U.S. alliance: lawmaker

November 21, 2019

Stephen Biegun, Washington’s top envoy for North Korea and the nominee for deputy secretary of state, spoke Thursday of the need for a “renewal” of the Seoul-Washington alliance, a South Korean lawmaker said.

Rep. Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, told reporters after meeting with Biegun that she interpreted his remarks as a call for Seoul to increase its financial contribution to the upkeep of 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea.

Na was in Washington as part of a bipartisan parliamentary delegation to deliver South Korea’s concern about U.S. demands for a sharp increase in its share of the defense costs.

The meeting was also attended by Reps. Lee In-young and Oh Shin-hwan, floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party and minor opposition Bareunmirae Party, respectively.

“Special Representative Biegun used the expression, ‘renewal of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,’ to describe (the current conditions vis-a-vis) 1950,” Na said, referring to the year the Korean War broke out with the U.S. fighting on South Korea’s side.

“I believe he meant that these (cost-sharing negotiations) should be viewed inside the framework of a new alliance,” she said.

Oh added that Biegun projected a difficult set of negotiations ahead.

The lawmakers said they stated Seoul’s position that it will not be able to accept excessive demands from Washington and called for “fair and reasonable” negotiations based on a foundation of respect and trust.

They also said they asked Biegun to work to strengthen the alliance if confirmed as the No. 2 State Department official.

Reps. Na Kyung-won (L), Lee In-young (C) and Oh Shin-hwan, floor leaders of the Liberty Korea Party, Democratic Party and Bareunmirae Party, respectively, speak to reporters outside the U.S. State Department building in Washington on Nov. 21, 2019. (Yonhap)

Reps. Na Kyung-won (L), Lee In-young (C) and Oh Shin-hwan, floor leaders of the Liberty Korea Party, Democratic Party and Bareunmirae Party, respectively, speak to reporters outside the U.S. State Department building in Washington on Nov. 21, 2019. (Yonhap)

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