Moon offers talks with opposition parties on extra budget, N. Korea food aid

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President Moon Jae-in appealed to opposition parties Monday to reopen three-way dialogue with the government and the ruling party on supplementary budgets and other pending issues. He was effectively turning down calls by the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP). Its leader, Hwang Kyo-ahn, has demanded one-on-one talks with the president. Last November, Moon launched the “standing council” with the floor leaders of the nation’s five major political parties under an accord to convene a quarterly session. But no follow-up meeting has been held amid sharp political rifts over the liberal president’s North Korea policy and reform drive. Moon’s office, Cheong Wa Dae, issued a statement “earnestly requesting” the operation of the council be resumed. “Cheong Wa Dae hopes that the standing consultation council of the government and the ruling and opposition parties will be normally operated at the earliest possible date to resolve a host of pending issues,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said.

 

The LKP’s floor leader, Rep. Na Kyung-won, earlier proposed a smaller group meeting, excluding two minor opposition parties with less than 20 seats at the National Assembly — the progressive Justice Party and the center-left Party for Democracy and Peace. The center-right Bareunmirae Party (BP) has 29 seats. Cheong Wa Dae is opposed to having official consultations only with the three parties — the ruling Democratic Party (DP), the LKP and the BP. Ko also reaffirmed the president’s desire for a separate gathering with the heads of the five political parties to have “in-depth” discussions on providing North Korea with humanitarian food assistance and narrowing differences over other issues.

 

Asked about a Plan B in case the LKP keeps rejecting the dialogue offer, she just voiced expectations that the party will eventually accept it. On food aid, she indicated that Cheong Wa Dae won’t rush it. “(We) stated that it’s not a matter to be done right away, either today or tomorrow,” even though U.S. President Donald Trump supports Seoul’s move toward food assistance for Pyongyang, she added.

 

(Yonhap)

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