Saenuri, Moon hash out NLL

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Saenuri, Moon hash out NLL

The Saenuri Party yesterday took direct aim at Moon Jae-in, the Democratic Party’s defeated candidate in last year’s presidential election and the closest ally of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, condemning his silence over the scandal on the transcript of a 2007 inter-Korean summit.

“I want to ask why Representative Moon of the Democratic Party remains silent about the situation,” said Representative Choi Kyung-hwan, floor leader of the Saenuri Party, yesterday. “As we all know, Moon was the last presidential chief of staff of the Roh government and the head of the preparation committee for the summit. At the time, he was in a position to have the best understanding of how the transcript was created, stored and moved.”

The ruling Saenuri and opposition Democratic parties have been battling over claims that Roh disavowed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea, in his closed-door meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during their summit in Pyongyang in October 2007.

The National Intelligence Service, which kept an audio recording of the conversation and a copy of the transcript, further fueled the controversy last month by declassifying the transcript and disclosing it. That copy of the transcript quoted Roh as saying vague and contradictory things about the NLL. The opposition has refused to accept the NIS’s copy of the transcript because it said it may have been altered. It insisted on seeing the original in the National Archives, as Moon proposed. The National Assembly made an unprecedented decision on July 2 to allow a bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers to access the sealed record in the National Archives, but they concluded Monday, after a weeklong search, that the record isn’t in the archives.

The Saenuri Party is saying that Moon should know if the transcript was moved to the National Archives, hidden away elsewhere or possibly even destroyed by the late president Roh.

“The National Assembly sanctioned access to the presidential records at the initiative of Moon,” Choi said. “Now, it is revealed that the transcript is not there, but Moon is saying nothing. For a politician who served as a presidential chief of staff and a presidential candidate, it is cowardly.”

Moon has denied that Roh disavowed the NLL at the summit meeting. He accompanied Roh to Pyongyang, but did not join the Roh-Kim meeting.

On June 30, he said he would retire from politics if the transcript at the National Archives proved him wrong.

Choi also said the scandal must be investigated by the prosecution to find out “who tried to erase history and for what reason.”

In response to the attack, Moon finally broke his silence yesterday afternoon. In a press release, Moon urged the Saenuri Party to make a political decision to end the dispute since it used the scandal to win the election last December. It was a major campaign issue at the time.

Moon said it was regretful that the lawmakers could not find the transcript at the National Archives, but the NIS’s copy showed that Roh did not disown the NLL.

“To win the presidential election and to cover up the NIS’s intervention in the election, the Saenuri Party made an unbelievable argument that Roh had given up the NLL,” Moon said. “That’s why we wanted to look at the transcript at the National Archives to lay bare the truth and end the controversy as soon as possible.

“So I urge the Saenuri Party to end it here, right now,” he said. “The ruling and opposition parties can have a separate discussion on the disappearance of the transcript.”

The ruling party also criticized the Democrats for trying to examine other records of the summit sent by the National Archives last week. After the two parties’ lawmakers made their first electronic search with seven key phrases, the archives sent 10 boxes of records on Thursday to the National Assembly. The boxes were locked up in a vault in a small conference room of the House Steering Committee in the National Assembly’s main building.

The committee agreed Monday that the two parties will have further discussion about what to do with those records. While the Democrats said they want to examine them, the Saenuri Party disagreed.

“We can still look at them by ourselves,” said Representative Lee Un-ju, spokeswoman of the DP. “We can check whether Roh did disavow the NLL or not by reading them and end this wasteful debate.”

“We agreed Monday at the House Steering Committee that the two parties will have more discussions to decide what to do with those records,” said Representative Kim Tae-heum, a Saenuri spokesman. “And yet, the DP made an attempt to look at the records by themselves. This is an insult to the Assembly.”

Representative Choi, the chairman of the House Steering Committee, also rejected the DP’s request to look at the records.

“The Saenuri Party is refusing because they are afraid the records will show that Roh never disavowed the NLL,” said DP Representative Woo Yoon-keun.


BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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