The U.S. has confirmed once again that South Korea will not have to pay towards the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, despite comments made by Donald Trump earlier this week.
Seoul's presidential office revealed that in a phone call on Sunday morning lasting 35 minutes, Trumps' national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, is said to have explained to his Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin,
that when Trump said he wanted to make Seoul pay for the costs, he was simply making general comments about the U.S. public's wishes on the issue.
McMaster is said to have assured Kim that Trump and Washington consider their alliance with South Korea the top priority in the Asia-Pacific region.
On Thursday, to the confusion of Seoul officials, Trump said in an interview with Reuters, that he had informed them that it was 'appropriate' for Korea to pay the bill for the system, which he estimated at costing a billion dollars.
Trump repeated this stance, in an interview with the Washington Times on Friday.
The battery is already close to being deployed, after the U.S. began moving key components to its designated location in Seongju County on Wednesday.
The defense ministry said the installation could be completed and fully operational in a matter of days, but it remains unclear whether that will happen before Korea's presidential election on May 9th.
The future of the THAAD deployment has been a key topic among the candidates.
Sunday's call is hoped to have put the cost issue to rest once and for all, but that will depend on Trump and what he has to say about it next.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang News.