Moon insinuates primary to field a liberal candidate

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Moon insinuates primary to field a liberal candidate

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Moon Jae-in

Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the major opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), hinted at the possibility of a primary race with independent Ahn Cheol-soo to field a single liberal candidate against conservative Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party in the December election.

The DUP “can put down all of our vested rights and fully make a fair [primary] rule,” Moon said in an exclusive interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Saturday at the lawmakers’ building in Yeouido, western Seoul. “There may be other options in choosing a single liberal candidate, like compromising, but for this there must be consent from the DUP.

“Even for Ahn, the more he completes his campaign [team], the more difficult his position in making decisions [about consolidating bids], so it will not be an easy task to field a single candidate by quitting [compromising].”

There has been much speculation about whether Moon and Ahn will consolidate their bids and what that process might look like. Both candidates understand that splitting liberal votes on the election day would only benefit Park.

Moon, who was elected as the DUP’s standard-bearer in a four-candidate party primary that ended in September, spoke about a variety of political and security issues that have been much debated by his rivals Park and Ahn.

Regarding the ruling Saenuri Party’s recent merger with the conservative minority Advancement and Unification Party, formerly the Liberty Forward Party, Moon said the move was “desirable.”

“Both parties support conservative ideologies, but they were split simply because of different regional bases,” he said. “The DUP and forces that support Ahn also share many values, which enables us to be together.”

Moon’s comments indicate he would like the people to judge and vote for president on Dec. 19 after conservative and liberal parties consolidate and compete one-on-one.

In regard to Saenuri Party attacks claiming that former liberal President Roh Moo-hyun allegedly told his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il during the inter-Korean summit in 2007 that he does not recognize the Northern Limit Line (NLL) as the de facto maritime border and that there are recordings of the dialogue, Moon said the contentions are “groundless.”

“Disclosing the inter-Korean summit dialogue would be an act tearing down the foundations of diplomacy,” he said.

The ruling party has been arguing that the recorded transcript should be disclosed to the public, but it has been designated as confidential and was sealed for up to 30 years at the state archive under a law established at the end of Roh’s presidency.

“The [controversy] should end after the National Intelligence Service chief confirms whether or not former President Roh did actually make a remark not recognizing the NLL,” Moon said.

When asked if he will consider Pyongyang as Seoul’s state enemy if he’s elected as president, Moon said, “It isn’t right to refer North Korea as an enemy.”

“In reality, North Korea is the most threatening existence to us and it is necessary that the military educate soldiers on awareness of the North. But in official government documents, it isn’t right to state North Korea as an enemy, such as in the defense white paper,” he said.

“The word ‘enemy’ isn’t adequate [in referring to the North] considering the reality we are in, pursuing peace and prosperity through a strong military and inter-Korean dialogue.”

By Kim Jung-wook, Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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