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(2nd LD) Moon meets ruling, opposition party leaders amid political stalemate

All Headlines 21:33 November 10, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES lead paras with results of meeting)

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in agreed Sunday with the heads of South Korea's five major political parties on the need to resume a key regular meeting on discussing major pending political issues, a ruling party official said after their Cheong Wa Dae dinner meeting.

At the end of the session, held at Moon's official residence inside the presidential compound for around two and a half hours, the participants had a "rather positive discussion" on the issue of restarting the standing council on state affairs among the ruling and opposition parties and the government, according to a Democratic Party official.

Hwang Kyo-ahn of the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party showed a "positive response that (his party) will consider" it, the official added.

President Moon Jae-in holds a dinner meeting with the leaders of five major political parties at his Cheong Wa Dae official residence on Nov. 10, 2019, in this file photo provided by Moon's office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Moon held the inaugural council meeting with the floor leaders of the five parties in November last year and planned to have a quarterly session. But no follow-up meeting has taken place amid ferocious political strife.

Mon had his 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.

The other participating political party leaders were Lee Hae-chan of the ruling Democratic 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 was 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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