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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:44 April 20, 2017

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

(News Focus) Trump's 'armada' gaffe stains his commitment to alliance

SEOUL -- Mystery persists over U.S. President Donald Trump's dispatch of an "armada" toward the Korean Peninsula, leaving many people here puzzled and concerned about defense coordination between the allies.

Early this month, the U.S. Pacific Command announced the departure of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike group from Singapore for waters near the peninsula.

(LEAD) Military reasserts N. Korea is 'enemy' amid political row

SEOUL -- South Korea's defense ministry said Thursday that North Korea is clearly the country's enemy, although it has formally jettisoned the politically sensitive expression "main enemy."

A longstanding controversy over labeling the communist neighbor has been rekindled by the television debate Wednesday night of five politicians running for the May 9 presidential elections.

(LEAD) S. Korea working to confirm reports on controversial Trump-Xi remark

SEOUL/BEIJING -- South Korea's foreign ministry said Thursday that it is working to confirm reports that Chinese leader Xi Jinping told U.S. President Donald Trump that Korea "used to be a part of China."

"We are working to confirm the reports through diverse diplomatic channels including the United States and China," Cho June-hyuck, foreign ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing. "As soon as detailed facts are confirmed, (the government) will make the necessary response."

(LEAD) S. Korea completes land provision process for THAAD deployment

SEOUL -- South Korea has completed the process to provide a site for the deployment of the advanced U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Since the official announcement of a decision to install a THAAD battery in South Korea, Seoul and Washington have been negotiating the use of a golf course in the southeastern county of Seongju for the deployment led by the United States Forces Korea (USFK).

(3rd LD) Moon sees no merit in calling North Korea main enemy: aides

SEOUL -- Presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in refused to publicly call North Korea a main enemy of the state, not because he does not think so but because there is no benefit in it for his country, those close to the candidate said Thursday.

"A person seeking to become the next president, if elected, may be the person who has to personally talk with North Korea to establish peace between the divided Koreas and also work to peacefully reunify the two," a key campaigner for the liberal presidential nominee told Yonhap News Agency.

(LEAD) Presidential candidates pledge increased spending for disabled

SEOUL -- As the nation marked the Day of People with Disability on Thursday, leading presidential candidates made pledges to increase government spending and improve public services for physically and mentally disabled people.

Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, noted that government spending for people with physical and mental disabilities accounted for only 0.61 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, far lower than the OECD average of 2.1 percent that same year.

U.S. sends nuclear sniffer plane to Korea: source

SEOUL -- The U.S. Air Force dispatched a nuclear sniffer aircraft Thursday to the east of the Korean Peninsula amid the possibility of North Korea's imminent nuclear test, a government source said.

"The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, a special-purpose U.S. plane, made an emergency sortie today over the East Sea," the source said, requesting anonymity.

(LEAD) S. Korea's household debt growth slows in Q1

SEOUL -- South Korea's household debt growth, already the highest among emerging markets, increased at a slower pace in the first quarter of this year, thanks to government measures to curb lending, the nation's top financial regulator said Thursday.

Household debt, which stood at 1,344 trillion won (US$1.17 trillion) at the end of last year, has been cited as one of the key vulnerabilities facing Asia's fourth-largest economy as a mountain of debts threatens to choke off consumer spending.

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