South Korea Assured US Will Pay for THAAD Anti-missile System

A THAAD missile launcher rolls off a military transport plane in South Korea last March. (US Army photo)
A THAAD missile launcher rolls off a military transport plane in South Korea last March. (US Army photo)

South Korea said Sunday the U.S. reaffirmed it would pay for the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system, days after President Trump said Seoul should pay for the near $1 billion-battery.

The South Korean presidential office said Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster reassured South Korea's chief national security officer Kim Kwan-jin that the U.S. alliance with South Korea is its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, Reuters reported.

The reassurance comes after Trump said last week that he wanted Seoul to pay for the THAAD deployment, which immediately raised questions about the relationship between the two nations.

South Korea said it was Washington's cost to bear under the bilateral agreement.

"National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster explained that the recent statements by President Trump were made in a general context, in line with the U.S. public expectations on defense cost burden-sharing with allies," Seoul said in a statement.

The anti-missile system is set to be operational soon. Major elements of the system were being moved into Seonjgu, located in the southern part of the country, this week. The U.S. and South Korea contend that the battery is only to guard against North Korean missiles, despite concerns expressed in China.

Meanwhile, North Korea attempted to launch another ballistic missile early Saturday, but it appeared to have failed. The test drew international condemnation.

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