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(LEAD) Foreign minister pays courtesy calls to party leaders

All News 18:19 June 20, 2017

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, photo; UPDATES throughout with new info, remarks)

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- New Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha visited parliament Tuesday in a move to seek its cooperation on pending diplomatic issues and mend fences with opposition parties that called her unfit due to her alleged ethical lapses.

On Monday, Kang took office as the country's first female top diplomat, undertaking a series of daunting diplomatic tasks such as denuclearizing North Korea, strengthening the alliance with the United States and addressing diplomatic tensions with China and Japan.

Kang paid courtesy calls to National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and top officials of the ruling Democratic Party, People's Party and Bareun Party.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party reportedly refused to meet her in protest against President Moon Jae-in's decision to appoint her despite its objections.

A minister's appointment does not require parliamentary consent but disapproval often imposes a political burden on the president.

During a meeting with People's Party floor leader Kim Dong-cheol, Kang pledged to frequently visit the legislature to seek lawmakers' advice on diplomatic affairs, while apologizing for the controversy over her alleged wrongdoings such as false address registration for her daughter.

"I am ready to address a number of challenges our country faces under tough diplomatic circumstances," Kang told Kim. "I will often visit the parliament and do my best to show the results (of our diplomacy)."

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) shakes hands with Kim Dong-cheol, the floor leader of the minor opposition People's Party, before their talk at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

Kim called on the minister to carry out sweeping reforms of the ministry long criticized for its exclusive organizational culture, and exert her leadership to tackle the country's diplomatic challenges.

During a meeting with Woo Won-shik, the ruling party's floor leader, Kang pledged to "live up to your expectations," noting that her ministry has been trying its best to thoroughly prepare for the summit between Moon and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump slated for June 29-30, as well as next month's Group of 20 summit in Germany.

"I will make many efforts to steer the foreign ministry well," she said. "I will strive to create a new culture in the foreign ministry, and I hope the lawmakers can support us."

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) shakes hands with Woo Won-shik, the floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, before their talks at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 20, 2017. (Yonhap)


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