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Yonhap News Summary

All News 11:57 April 18, 2017

The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.

(2nd LD) Pence says Washington will 'reform' FTA with S. Korea

SEOUL -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that Washington will review and reform the free trade agreement with South Korea, citing "too many barriers" to U.S. businesses.

The visiting vice president made the remarks during an American Chamber of Commerce meeting in Seoul. South Korea and the United States enforced the so-called KORUS FTA in 2012.

S. Korea-U.S. alliance surfaces as key election issue amid N.K. threats

SEOUL -- South Korea's security alliance with the United States is emerging as a prominent issue for the upcoming election, with Pyongyang ratcheting up cross-border tensions with its unrelenting saber-rattling.

Major presidential candidates -- except for a far-left one -- have stressed the need to firm up the defense partnership, but the varying degrees of their support for it are expected to affect voter sentiment in the lead-up to the May 9 poll, observers said.

Moon and Ahn give their all to attack each other

SEOUL -- Presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in and the close second Ahn Cheol-soo continued to exchange vicious attacks Tuesday as the upcoming election has apparently become a two-way race.

In most recent polls on the May 9 election, the two liberal candidates together garnered more than 80 percent of all votes. Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party remained in a distant third with an approval rating of less than 10 percent.

S. Korea's auto exports rise for two straight months in March

SEJONG -- South Korea's auto exports rose two months in a row in March on increased global demand for green cars, government data showed Tuesday.

The total value of autos shipped overseas reached US$4.12 billion last month, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

(LEAD) U.S. official: THAAD deployment is right on track

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. State Department official said Monday there is no hiccup in the ongoing deployment of a cutting-edge missile defense system in South Korea, dismissing concern about a political setback.

"There hasn't been any change, and there hasn't certainly been anything about the decision-making process that would indicate any change," Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters in a telephone conference. "So we're on track as far as that goes for THAAD deployment."

N. Korea's trade cargo ship sets sail amid U.N. sanctions

SEOUL -- North Korea held a ceremony to mark the sailing of a trade cargo ship, the North's state media on Tuesday reported, amid the country's setbacks in international trade caused by severe U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile development programs.

Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, said the 5,000-ton Jaryok set sail during the ceremony held at the Ryongnam Dockyard in the western port city of Nampho on Monday and it "provided another material and technical foundation for developing the maritime transport of the country."

S. Korea's warships to have new missiles for ground targets

SEOUL -- South Korea's Navy has completed the development of new tactical ship-to-ground guided missiles which would enhance its ability to strike North Korea's key military facilities, the country's arms procurement agency said Tuesday.

South Korea will start mass-producing the missiles with two types of launch systems -- inclined and vertical -- next year after a seven-year project led by the Agency for Defense Development, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

S. Koreans criticize Abe for remarks on refugee crisis on peninsula

SEOUL -- South Koreans voiced criticism over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent remarks on dealing with possible refugees amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, comments on social media showed Tuesday.

During a parliamentary session Monday, Abe said Japan is working on contingency plans for a possible influx of refugees from the peninsula in case of a crisis. He earlier said North Korea may have the ability to launch sarin-loaded missiles.

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