South Korea's parliament remained deadlocked over ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free-trade agreement (FTA). The bill now awaits a committee vote before being laid before a plenary session for full approval, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Meanwhile, Rep. Park Geun-hye, a leading presidential contender, said Thursday that the National Assembly should endorse the long-pending trade pact with the United States as soon as possible, amid prolonged division between rival parties over the bill.

"It is appropriate to pass (the FTA) during (the tenure) of this assembly," Park told reporters. "I think a long delay would not help." Opposition lawmakers continued their sit-in protest inside the foreign affairs and trade committee's conference rooms in protest at the ruling party's move to unilaterally pass the trade pact.

The free-trade agreement, originally signed in 2007, has been the most contentious issue in the South Korean legislature, with opposition parties vowing to block what they see as favoring Washington interests. The U.S. Congress endorsed the pact last month.

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Source: Yonhap News Agency