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Yonhap News Summary

All Headlines 13:30 May 16, 2018

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

(2nd LD) N. Korea cancels high-level talks with S. Korea, threatens to nix U.S. summit

SEOUL -- North Korea said Wednesday it is canceling high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to pull out of a summit with the United States over the allies' ongoing military exercises.

The North's Korean Central News Agency said the Max Thunder drills between the South Korean and U.S. air forces are a rehearsal for invasion of the North and a provocation amid warming inter-Korean ties.

(2nd LD) N. Korea threatens to rethink Trump-Kim summit

SEOUL -- A senior North Korean official warned Wednesday that Pyongyang will reconsider the agreed-upon summit talks with the United States if it comes under continued pressure to "unilaterally" abandon its nuclear program.

Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan made clear that the communist regime is not interested in any nuclear talks in which it is coerced into giving up its nuclear arsenal, according to Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA.

(2nd LD) S. Korea voices regret over N. Korea's unilateral suspension of talks

SEOUL -- South Korea expressed regret over North Korea's unilateral decision to cancel inter-Korean talks planned for Wednesday, calling on Pyongyang to return to dialogue as soon as possible.

Earlier in the day, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said it has canceled the high-level talks with the South, citing the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the United States. It also threatened to cancel summit talks with the U.S. scheduled for June 12.

(2nd LD) U.S. continues to plan N. Korea summit: State Department

WASHINGTON -- The United States said Tuesday it continues to plan for a historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un despite the regime's threat to withdraw.

The State Department's response came shortly after North Korea warned the U.S. to make "careful deliberations about the fate" of the June 12 summit, citing ongoing military exercises between the South and the U.S.

(LEAD) South Korea, U.S. will continue military exercise despite N.K. protest: ministry

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States will press ahead with their ongoing combined air drills as planned, Seoul's defense ministry said Wednesday, hours after North Korea canceled high-level cross-border talks in protest against the exercise.

The annual two-week Max Thunder exercise began on Friday, involving 100 aircraft, including eight F-22 radar-evading fighter jets, as well as F-15Ks and F-16s. It is hosted by South Korea's Air Force Operations Command and the U.S. 7th Air Force.

(2nd LD) Jobless rate falls to 4.1 pct in April, job creation remains sluggish

SEJONG -- South Korea's jobless rate fell slightly in April due to a rise in employment in the health care, financial service and public service sectors, but job creation still remained weak, government data showed Wednesday.

The unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

Major firms' presence further grows on earnings chart in Q1

SEOUL -- Earnings by South Korea's listed companies rose in the first quarter of this year, but some heavyweights racked up a larger portion of the gains, data showed Wednesday.

The combined sales of 554 companies on the main bourse stood at 463.9 trillion won (US$430.01 billion) on a consolidated basis in the first three months of this year, up 4.82 percent from the previous year, according to the data compiled by the bourse operator, Korea Exchange (KRX).

Sales of HNB e-cigarettes grow fast since debut last year

SEOUL -- South Korean has seen sales of heat-not-burn (HNB) electronic cigarettes grow at a fast click since their debut here last year, amid soaring popularity among local smokers, data showed Wednesday.

According to the data from the government and industry sources, 163 million packs of HNB tobacco products were sold in the country between May 2017 and this March. One pack contains 20 e-cigarettes.

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