MB, party chiefs dine and make up

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MB, party chiefs dine and make up

President Lee Myung-bak met with the upper echelon of the Grand National Party on Sunday to restore mutual trust following the ruling party’s derailing of one of his cabinet appointments.

The Blue House and the GNP said yesterday that Lee, accompanied by top aides, met with four leaders of the ruling party at an undisclosed restaurant in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul.

The dinner near the Blue House was arranged by the president.

Yim Tae-hee, Blue House chief of staff, Chung Jin-suk, senior secretary for political affairs, and Lee Jae-oh, minister for political affairs, accompanied the president for the dinner.

Grand National Party Chairman Ahn Sang-soo, floor leader Kim Moo-sung, secretary general Won Hee-ryong and chief policy maker Shim Jae-chul attended the dinner.

“The ruling party, the government and the Blue House are bound by a common destiny, and we have endless responsibility before history and nation,” Lee was quoted as saying by Ahn yesterday.

The participants vowed to restore cooperation between the party and the Blue House to win the next presidential election, Ahn added.

Kim said he apologized to the president for derailing the appointment of Chung Tong-gi as the new Board of Audit and Inspection head. Chung’s nomination was fiercely challenged by the opposition Democratic Party, but Chung finally threw in the towel on Jan. 14 after losing the support from the GNP.

“I told the president that it was all my fault and that I would turn over a new leaf to do better,” Kim said. “Chairman Ahn and I apologized.”

According to Kim, Lee said the Grand Nationals must remember that they and the Blue House are one in body and soul.

“The president gave some bitter comments at first, but it wasn’t a scolding,” Kim said. “It was to create a consensus among us. He just expressed some regret.”

The relationship between the Blue House and the Grand National Party froze quickly after the GNP leadership pressured Chung to give up the post shortly before his confirmation hearing earlier this month.

Enraged by the party’s action, the Blue House called off a plan to invite GNP leaders for a presidential dinner initially scheduled this week.

Lee, however, appeared to have changed his mind after the military’s successful operation to rescue the Samho Jewelry from Somali pirates, which gave a public image boost to his administration.

“The president invited us to untangle [problems],” Kim said.

There was no discussion at the dinner about the 2012 general election or the possibility of amending the constitution at the dinner, Kim added.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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