U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is visiting South Korea next week, three months after his first visit in August.
"Next Wednesday, Secretary Esper will depart on a trip to our priority theater in the Indo-Pacific. He will travel to Seoul, Bangkok, Manila and Hanoi. The trip is a reflection of the department's focus on our concerns with Chinese efforts to undermine the rules-based international order in the region."
Esper will arrive in Seoul on Thursday and attend the two allies' annual Security Consultative Meeting on Friday.
South Korea and the U.S. will discuss the security situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula namely, North Korea's projectile launches as well as efforts to support the denuclearization talks, like down-scaling their joint drills.
A few alliance issues are also expected to be on the table such as Seoul retaking wartime operational control from Washington and the U.S. returning its military base sites in South Korea.
But, also on the agenda is the trilateral security cooperation between South Korea, the U.S., and Japan.
And this is a thorny one as it certainly touches upon GSOMIA, a bilateral intel-sharing pact between South Korea and Japan which Seoul has decided to pull out of.
GSOMIA automatically expires on November 23rd only a week after Esper's visit.
At a briefing on Thursday, the Pentagon's spokesperson said GSOMIA will be part of the conversations at the talks next week and the U.S. wants to see it resolved, meaning Seoul should keep the deal.
Sharing the cost of stationing U.S. troops in South Korea is believed to be another big talking point.
Washington reportedly demanded that Seoul pay nearly 5 billion U.S. dollars for next year.
It's over five times what Seoul is paying right now and therefore, unacceptable from Seoul's side.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.