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Yonhap News Summary

All News 18:28 January 19, 2017

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

(4th LD) Court rejects arrest warrant sought for Samsung heir

SEOUL -- A Seoul court on Thursday rejected an arrest warrant sought for Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group's de facto leader, dealing a blow to investigators who have been accelerating the probe into an influence-peddling scandal centered on President Park Geun-hye and her friend.

On Monday, an independent counsel team looking into the scandal announced that it sought the warrant against Lee, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., on charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

(LEAD) S. Korea says it is 'not desirable' to link 'comfort woman' statue issue with Dokdo

SEOUL -- South Korea's foreign ministry said on Thursday that it is "not desirable" to link the current diplomatic friction over a girl statue symbolizing Japan's wartime sexual slavery with the issue of Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo which are claimed by Tokyo.

The ministry's response is interpreted as an apparent attempt to stop the diplomatic row with Japan over the statue issue from spiraling out of control and developing into a territorial spat.

(2nd LD) N.K. leader conducts first inspection of military unit this year

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a military unit, Pyongyang's state media said Thursday, marking his first inspection of the country's defense establishment in the new year.

The North's leader toured a company under the Korean People's Army (KPA)'s Unit 233, stressing the need to boost its combat preparations, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said without revealing the date of his inspection.

(LEAD) Ban's grassroots drive takes on more political overtones

SEOUL -- Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's aggressive drive to build grassroots support took on more political overtones on Thursday as the potential presidential contender met with a former conservative leader.

Ban paid a courtesy call to Lee Myung-bak, the country's only former president with some -- albeit feeble -- political influence, sparking speculation that he would soon engage in a full-fledged campaign to boost his presidential prospects.

(LEAD) Minister vows to stabilize consumer prices ahead of major holiday

SEJONG -- South Korea's finance minister vowed Thursday to stabilize consumer prices and sternly deal with any possible price collusion in processed goods ahead of a major holiday.

"There are growing concerns over an increase in consumer prices being felt in the markets," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said in a meeting with officials in Seoul. "We will concentrate our utmost efforts on stabilizing prices of agricultural products and processed food."

S. Korea to minimize impact of offshore financial jitters

SEJONG -- A senior finance ministry official pledged Thursday to minimize the impact of offshore financial jitters on the South Korean economy as Seoul is working out details of its economic policy directions for this year.

Vice Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok also said in a meeting with economic experts that the government will use all means necessary to win as many orders as possible in overseas infrastructure projects.

Ruling party decides not to expel Park

SEOUL -- South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party on Thursday said it will not expel President Park Geun-hye over the influence-peddling scandal, claiming her impeachment procedures are still under way.

In Myung-jin, the party's interim head, said he has put on hold measures to punish Park through its ethics committee.

"If it was before the impeachment, the party should have punished her to reflect public demand. But now, with the impeachment process in progress, it is meaningless to nitpick her wrongdoings as a party member," he said.

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