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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:02 June 13, 2016

The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Monday.

S. Korea to launch official FTA talks with Israel

SEJONG -- South Korea will launch official talks on a bilateral trade agreement with Israel later this month to discuss ways to boost economic and investment exchanges, the trade ministry here said Monday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the first round of negotiations will be held on June 27 in Seoul, seven years after the two countries began discussions on launching FTA talks in 2009.

(LEAD) Chinese fishing boats leave neutral waters after S. Korean crackdown: military

SEOUL -- All Chinese vessels have left neutral waters in the Han River's estuary between South and North Korea Monday, three days after the South Korean military and United Nations Command (UNC) started their first joint crackdown in the buffer zone, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

On Friday, four South Korean speed boats with military police teams were sent into the waters that flow from the Han River mouth to the Yellow Sea to drive away Chinese fishing boats that have intruded into the tensely monitored area in search of blue crabs and other resources.

(LEAD) (News Focus) Lotte's core projects in limbo amid prosecution probe

SEOUL -- South Korean retail giant Lotte Group is facing yet another stumbling block following a bitter succession feud as its major business projects are facing delays or cancellations amid a widening probe into its lobbying and slush fund allegations, industry watchers said Monday.

Lotte, South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, has come under a high-profile investigation as prosecutors on Friday raided the offices of its headquarters, seven affiliate companies and the houses of key executives, including group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, to look into allegations of illegal slush funds and other shady business practices.

Gov't poured 18.9 tln won in R&D in 2015: ministry

SEOUL -- The South Korean government invested a total of 18.9 trillion won (US$16.5 billion) in research and development (R&D) in 2015, up 7 percent from a year earlier, an official tally showed Monday.

The government supported 54,433 tasks in 639 projects nationwide, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks dip almost 2 pct on Brexit woes

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks dipped by almost 2 percent to a two-week low on Monday as investors scrambled for safe havens ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting slated this week and rising concerns over Britain's exit from the European Union. The Korean won sharply lost against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 38.57 points, or 1.91 percent, to close at 1,979.06, marking the biggest intraday loss in four months. Trade volume was moderate at 437.22 million shares worth 4.53 trillion won (US$3.86 billion), with losers far outnumbering winners 675 to 156.

U.N. chief remains ahead of other presidential hopefuls: survey

SEOUL -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remained ahead of other potential presidential hopefuls from the opposition parties, data showed Monday, underscoring his presence as an odds-on contender in next year's presidential race.

According to the survey conducted by local pollster Realmeter, Ban held an approval rating of 25 percent, up 0.9 percentage point from a week ago, trailed by Moon Jae-in, former leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea whose rating stood at 24.1 percent, which also gained 0.9 percent from a week earlier.

Shares of Lotte units plunge on prosecution probe

SEOUL -- Shares of Lotte Group subsidiaries took a nosedive on Monday amid a widening prosecution probe into the conglomerate over suspicions of slush funds and other malfeasance.

Flagship retail unit Lotte Shopping tumbled 5.38 percent to 211,000 won (US$179.9) on the main bourse, and the chemicals subsidiary sank 3.91 percent to 258,000 won. In a regulatory filing earlier in the day, Lotte Chemical said it had withdrawn its bid to take over U.S.-based chemicals maker Axiall Corp.

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