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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:06 November 18, 2019

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

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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. hold new round of defense cost-sharing negotiations

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States held a new round of negotiations in Seoul on Monday over the sharing of the cost for stationing American troops here amid increasingly strident protests against Washington's call for a hefty rise in Seoul's payments.

South Korea's chief negotiator, Jeong Eun-bo, and his U.S. counterpart, James DeHart, led the two-day negotiations, with the allies still far apart on key issues, such as Seoul's total share and what should be included in the cost-sharing deal, called the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

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(LEAD) U.S. pressuring S. Korea, Japan to renew intel-sharing pact: defense minister

BANGKOK -- The United States has been pressuring both South Korea and Japan hard to narrow their differences so as to renew their soon-to-expire intelligence-sharing pact, but there are few signs of change in their stances in sight, Seoul's defense minister has said.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo made the remarks during a press gaggle on Sunday in the Thai capital of Bangkok, after holding a one-on-one meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, and trilateral talks with Kono and the U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

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(LEAD) S. Korean lawmakers to visit U.S. next month over defense cost-sharing talks

SEOUL -- Lawmakers of South Korea's parliamentary committee on foreign affairs plan to visit the United States early next month to exchange views about the contentious defense cost-sharing talks between the allies.

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, chief of the committee, and an unspecified number of lawmakers from rival political parties will travel to Washington, D.C., in December, a panel official said, without elaborating.

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(LEAD) Activists hold rallies to protest allies' defense cost-sharing talks

SEOUL -- Progressive civic groups held rallies Monday to protest the U.S. demand that South Korea sharply raise its share of the cost of the upkeep of American troops stationed here and to call for a reduction in the number of U.S. soldiers.

Activists gathered in front of the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis in Seoul, where the chief negotiators from Seoul and Washington launched a new two-day round of defense cost-sharing talks.

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(LEAD) S. Korea eases visa regulations for foreign workers in parts, materials and equipment fields

SEOUL -- South Korea's justice ministry on Monday unveiled a revised visa policy to ease regulations for foreign workers in the parts, materials and equipment industries as part of ongoing efforts to help the industries that have taken a hit from Seoul's trade row with Tokyo.

"Starting Nov. 18, the justice ministry implements a revised policy for foreign professionals to support the parts, materials and equipment industries struggling from Japan's trade row and improve national competitiveness," the ministry said in a press release.

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(LEAD) Senior N.K. diplomat departs for Russia

SEOUL -- North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, considered leader Kim Jong-un's top strategist in nuclear negotiations with the United States, departed for Russia on Monday, according to the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang.

"On November 18, at Sunan International Airport Ambassador A. Matsegora saw off member of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK Choe Son Hui who left on a visit to Russia," the embassy said in a post on its official Facebook page.

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(LEAD) S. Korea to grant smaller firms grace period on 52-hour policy

SEOUL -- South Korea plans to apply a grace period for smaller firms in adopting the 52-hour workweek system, the labor minister said Monday, reflecting concerns over financial costs and a legislative deadlock at the National Assembly.

"In the case (the policies) are not legislated, the government will push for all possible measures focusing on areas that (companies are) struggling within the extent of not harming the intent of the 52-hour workweek system," Lee Jae-kap, minister of employment and labor, said at a press briefing in the government complex city of Sejong.

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(LEAD) CJ CGV sells stakes in local units of China, Southeastern countries

SEOUL -- CJ CGV, South Korea's largest multiplex cinema chain, said Monday that it has sold a 30 percent stake in its local units in China and Southeastern Asian countries for US$286 million to improve its financial status.

As part of its global business strategy, the cinema unit of major South Korean entertainment group CJ, set up CGI Holdings to consolidate its operations in China, Vietnam and Indonesia and sold the stake to a consortium of two private equity funds -- MBK Partners and Mirae Asset Daewoo PE.
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