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(LEAD) Moon meets ruling, opposition party leaders amid political stalemate

All Headlines 18:56 November 10, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with dinner meeting; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Sunday had the first group meeting with the leaders of ruling and opposition parties in about four months amid fierce political strife over key reform bills and other pending issues.

Moon invited them to his official residence for a dinner to express thanks for their condolences over the death of his mother in late October, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

It came as Moon has reached the halfway point in his single-five year tenure.

It marked Moon's fifth group session with political party leaders at Cheong Wa Dae, but it's the first time for him to meet them at his official residence inside the presidential compound.

A Cheong Wa Dae official said the meeting has begun as scheduled, but no pool reporter was allowed to cover opening remarks even by Moon. Cheong Wa Dae said it has no plan for any press briefing on the outcome of the session.

In this file photo, taken July 18, 2019, President Moon Jae-in (3rd from R) speaks during a meeting with ruling and opposition party leaders about an ongoing South Korea-Japan trade conflict at the presidential office in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Political parties are expected to brief media on it.

The five participating political party leaders are Lee Hae-chan of the ruling Democratic Party, Hwang Kyo-ahn of the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party, Sohn Hak-kyu of the center-right opposition Bareunmirae Party, Sim Sang-jung of the progressive Justice Party and Chung Dong-young of the minor center-left Party for Democracy and Peace.

Moon had the last gathering with them on July 18 to discuss ways to cope with Japan's export curbs against South Korea.

Political wrangling has shown no signs of easing over major fast-tracked judiciary and electoral reform bills.

Rival parties sharply differ over the prosecution reform-related bills, in particular, including a proposal to set up an independent unit to probe corruption allegations by high-ranking public officials.

Other contentious issues include the government proposal for a 513.5 trillion-won (US$444 billion) budget for next year and Seoul's military information-sharing pact with Tokyo scheduled to expire next week.

It is also the first such gathering since former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, one of Moon's closest aides, stepped down following a series of massive street rallies for and against his appointment. Cho's family is being investigated over alleged irregularities, including his wife's questionable investment in a private equity fund.


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