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(2nd LD) Ruling, opposition parties to hold parliamentary question session on THAAD

All News 16:26 July 14, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with foreign ministry spokesman's remarks in paras 7-8; MOVES part of 6th para to bottom)

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ruling and opposition parties on Thursday agreed to hold a parliamentary session to ask policymakers about the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the country.

Under the agreement, the National Assembly will request key governmental officials, including Defense Minister Han Min-koo, to attend a plenary session to respond to lawmakers' questions on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, sources said.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, and Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho will also join the session, parliamentary sources added.

Local pundits expect lawmakers will concentrate their questions on the safety of the THAAD's powerful radar, along with solutions on the potential diplomatic discord with China and Russia.

South Korea and the United States agreed to station the THAAD system in the country last week to better respond to Pyongyang's on-going nuclear development and missile provocations. The session is planned for Tuesday and Wednesday.

While the ruling Saenuri Party supports the deployment, the minor People's Party has been claiming the plan should first win the National Assembly's approval.

Foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck dismissed the argument, saying the deployment decision is not subject to parliamentary approval.

Speaking in a regular press briefing, he said the deployment does not fall under a constitutional clause that governs the dispatch of troops abroad or the stationing of foreign troops on South Korean soil.

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party, who is a potential candidate for the next presidential election, also urged President Park Geun-hye to hold a meeting with representatives from each party on the "grave issue."

"Parliament should pave the way for the public discussion on the deployment plan," the politician said.

The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea currently remains neutral about the plan, although some of its lawmakers voiced their discontent.


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