(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with meeting results; ADDS photo)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in and the heads of five major political parties formed a united front Thursday against Japan's export curbs against South Korean firms.
During a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, they agreed to launch a "pan-national emergency cooperation body" to cope with the issue, according to a joint press statement.
Moon had his first group talks nearly in one and a half years with the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties.
They "shared the perception that Japan's measure of export restrictions are unfair economic reprisal that contravenes the free trade order," the parties' spokespersons said.
They urged Japan to immediately retract the stricter export control of core materials used in semiconductor and digital displays, which took effect a couple of weeks earlier.
Pledging bipartisan cooperation on the matter, Moon and the party leaders made it clear that Japan's move to remove South Korea from the "white list" of trusted importers is jeopardizing not only Seoul-Tokyo ties but also security cooperation in Northeast Asia.
The Japan issue was apparently a top agenda item in the session, along with a supplementary budget bill, which has been pending at the National Assembly for months.
"What's most urgent and important now is how we respond to Japan's measure of export restrictions (against South Korean firms)," Moon said at the outset of the talks.
It's necessary to pool wisdom on ways for South Korea to rely less on Japan for the supply of core materials for the manufacturing sector, he added.
The party leaders in attendance were Lee Hae-chan of the liberal, ruling Democratic Party, Hwang Kyo-ahn of the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), Sohn Hak-kyu of the center-right Bareunmirae Party, Sim Sang-jung of the progressive Justice Party and Chung Dong-young of the center-left Party for Democracy and Peace.
The six-way gathering came after months of sharp political rifts, mainly over the Moon administration's reform drive, economic policy and North Korea strategy.
The LKP chief suddenly accepted the offer to hold the group meeting with the president as Seoul bears the brunt of Tokyo's export curbs.
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