Truce between GNP, DP unravels in hours

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Truce between GNP, DP unravels in hours

The peace that broke out between the ruling party and opposition over the weekend collapsed just hours after both parties agreed to normalize legislative activity frozen by the tumultuous budget passage in December.

Shortly after the floor leaders of the Grand National and Democratic parties announced their agreement to convene an extraordinary legislative session next week to pass stalled bills, the Democrats held a meeting late Sunday night and decided in principle they would return to the National Assembly only after President Lee Myung-bak apologizes for the GNP’s railroading of the budget bill on Dec. 8.

The Democrats also said a summit between DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu and President Lee must take place before Lee apologizes. During a live television interview on Feb. 1, Lee said he was willing to sit down with Sohn, without elaborating on the details, including date and agenda.

“The deal between the two floor leaders is temporary,” said DP spokesman Lee Chun-seok. “The ball is now in the Blue House’s court.”

The Blue House, however, was unenthusiastic about rushing the meeting. “The summit and the normalization of the National Assembly are two separate issues,” said a high-ranking presidential aide. “The meeting with Sohn is not something we need to hurry. Even if it takes place, it will be after the legislature is normalized.”

A DP official also said Chung Jin-suk, Lee’s senior political affairs secretary, phoned Yang Seung-jo, Sohn’s chief of staff, Sunday to say the meeting between their bosses was not to be rushed. The Democratic leadership continued to pressure the Blue House yesterday. “Trust between the ruling and opposition parties and trust with the people are the key to resolving all problems,” Sohn said. “The ruling party and the president must face the opposition party with sincerity.”

DP floor leader Park Jie-won also told MBC Radio that the summit must take place this week.

“Sohn should say what he has to say as opposition leader, while the president can say what he has to say and also say that there should be no more railroading of bills,” Park said.

The GNP tried yesterday to salvage the agreement to open the legislative session next Monday.

“The summit should take place at the earliest possible date,” Kim Moo-sung, GNP floor leader, said yesterday. “Talking with the opposition party is a way of communicating with the people. The president should freely talk to the opposition party, grasp public sentiment and reflect it in state affairs.”

The Blue House said yesterday that dialogue was continuing.

“Chung informed the president he will begin preparations,” Kim Hee-jung, presidential spokeswoman, said yesterday.


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

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