November 09, 2016 09:54
President Park Geun-hye will not attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Nov. 19-20 in Lima, Peru, Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Joon-hyuk said Tuesday.
Cho said Park is staying home "in consideration of the grave security situation on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of North Korea's fifth nuclear test" and claimed the decision "was already made in September."
But that seems a transparent face-saving claim as Park's rule has collapsed in a widening influence-peddling scandal centered on her friend Choi Soon-sil.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will most likely attend the APEC summit on her behalf, Cho said.
He denied that the scandal has paralyzed the country's diplomacy, adding, "The government is ready for any eventuality."
This is the first time a South Korean president has missed an APEC summit since they started in Seattle in 1993.
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