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Park won't attend APEC summit amid scandal

President Park Geun-hye will not attend an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit next week, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, as she is grappling with an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime confidante.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokesman Cho June-hyuck cited the grave security situation on the Korean Peninsula as the official reason for her absence from the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation  scheduled for Nov. 19-20 in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

It will be the first time for a South Korean leader to skip the annual summit since it was launched in 1993.

 "Given the severity of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, including North Korea's latest fifth nuclear test, a decision was made in September that the president would not attend this year's APEC summit meeting," Cho said.

"Regarding who will be attending, (the government) is monitoring related conditions and keeping open all possibilities," he said, adding that the final decision will be announced early next week.  

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn or Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will reportedly join the regional forum on behalf of Park.

Earlier in the day, Park visited National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and asked the parliament to pick a new candidate for prime minister in a bid to end a political impasse caused by the scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, accused of meddling in government affairs.  (Yonhap)