(3rd LD) Moon, Yoon hold first meeting since election
(ATTN: ADDS details in para 4; CHANGES photos)
By Kim Deok-hyun and Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in and President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday held their first meeting since Yoon's election, after an earlier meeting was canceled due to disagreements over a series of sensitive issues.
The dinner meeting at Cheong Wa Dae comes 19 days after Yoon of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) was elected Moon's successor in the March 9 election, marking the longest period before a meeting between the outgoing and incoming presidents.
"There's no special agenda for today, and we'll probably talk about issues that need coordinating separately," Yoon told reporters at his office building earlier in the day. "I guess the public's livelihoods and security issues could come up."
Moon shook hands with Yoon as the president-elect arrived at Cheong Wa Dae. Wearing face masks, they walked through a garden and exchanged words about flowers and Cheong Wa Dae buildings before entering the meeting room.
The two had originally planned to meet March 16, but the plan was called off at the last minute after the sides failed to reach an agreement on issues that included personnel appointments for key positions and a proposed pardon for former President Lee Myung-bak.
Tensions between the two sides rose further after Moon's office expressed concern over Yoon's plan to move the presidential office out of Cheong Wa Dae, and Moon went ahead and made a nomination for governor of the central Bank of Korea.
Monday's meeting was set up after Moon offered to meet with Yoon at the "earliest possible" date, while Yoon expressed his hope to meet without any agenda and engage in "candid" dialogue, according to officials from both sides.
The meeting also comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula heightened after North Korea successfully test-fired a massive intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, marking its first ICBM test-launch since 2017.
The launch ended the North's self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests -- an anticipated move denting Moon's fragile peace drive and presaging a struggle for his successor, Yoon.
During Monday's meeting, Moon and Yoon were accompanied by Presidential Chief of Staff Yoo Young-min and Yoon's chief of staff Chang Je-won.
The meeting marks the farthest time past an election that a president and a president-elect in South Korea will have met.
In 2007, then President Roh Moo-hyun met then President-elect Lee Myung-bak nine days after Lee's election. Also in 2012, then President Lee met then President-elect Park Geun-hye nine days after Park's election.
Yoon served as a top prosecutor under the Moon administration, but their relationship took a downturn when the prosecution under Yoon launched a corruption investigation into Cho Kuk, one of Moon's closest aides and his pick for justice minister.
Yoon joined the PPP last year and became the conservative party's presidential candidate.
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