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(2nd LD) Park to hold meeting with leaders of ruling and opposition parties

All Headlines 11:25 September 12, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 4, 9-10)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye will hold a meeting with the leaders of the three major parties Monday to call for bipartisan cooperation in handling escalating nuclear threats from North Korea, her office Cheong Wa Dae said.

The meeting at the presidential office will be attended by the leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party, the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea and the People's Party -- Lee Jung-hyun, Choo Mi-ae and Park Jie-won, respectively.

It is the first such gathering since the new National Assembly began its term on May 30.

Also attending the meeting are National Security Office chief Kim Kwan-jin, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo and Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.

Park is expected to capitalize on the meeting to stress the need for national unity following Pyongyang's fifth and most powerful nuclear test Friday, which she said attests to the communist state's "urgent and existential" threats.

The commander-in-chief is also likely to seek bipartisan support for the planned deployment of a U.S. antimissile system, which she has repeatedly defended as an "inevitable, self-defense" measure.

During a meeting of security and foreign policy officials Friday, Park called for an end to the "political offensive" against the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the Korean Peninsula.

The leaders of the two opposition parties, Choo and Park, have opposed THAAD, arguing it would further aggravate cross-border tensions and complicate efforts to resolve the decades-old nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

Choo told reporters that she would "squarely and earnestly" touch on the THAAD issue during the meeting with the president.

Referring to THAAD, the floor leader of the People's Party proposed setting up a security meeting among the ruling and opposition parties and the government.

During the planned meeting, the chief executive is also expected to urge the political leaders to quickly pass economy-related bills, which her government has said are crucial to creating jobs and revitalizing the economy.

This photo, provided by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Sept. 9, 2016, shows South Korean President Park Geun-hye presiding over a meeting of top security and foreign policy officials at the presidential office in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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