President Park won't attend APEC summit this month: foreign ministry

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : November 8, 2016, 17:49 | Updated : November 8, 2016, 17:49
SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye will not attend an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit next week, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, as she is grappling with an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime confidante.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokesman Cho June-hyuck cited the grave security situation on the Korean Peninsula as the official reason for her absence from the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) scheduled for Nov. 19-20 in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

It will be the first time that a South Korean leader skips the annual summit since it was launched in 1993.

"Given the severity of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, including North Korea's latest fifth nuclear test, a decision was made in September that the president would not attend this year's APEC summit meeting," Cho said.

"Regarding who will be attending, (the government) is monitoring related conditions and keeping open all possibilities," he said, adding that the final decision will be announced early next week.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn or Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will reportedly join the regional forum on behalf of Park.

Earlier in the day, Park met with National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun to demand the parliament pick the next prime minister who will take control of government affairs in the aftermath of the snowballing scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, accused of meddling in government affairs and pressing conglomerates into making donations to two foundations she effectively controlled.
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