Saenuri calls for NLL meeting

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Saenuri calls for NLL meeting

The chairman of the ruling party has proposed a sit-down with his opposition counterpart to end the months of political bickering surrounding controversial remarks by former President Roh Moo-hyun on the maritime border between the two Koreas.

Saenuri Chairman Hwang Woo-yea on Saturday suggested to Democratic Chairman Kim Han-gill that they meet to discuss the string of issues surrounding the controversy. “We’ve already agreed to have routine talks, and the upcoming meeting should focus on political issues to satisfy the public with stable politics,” he said.

Hwang also said he welcomes Kim’s previous remarks that the Democratic Party will work to promote its strong will to defend the nation’s security, including the western maritime border between the two Koreas.

Over the past months, the parties have fought fiercely over whether Roh disavowed the de facto maritime border, the Northern Limit Line, during his 2007 summit in Pyongyang with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The political wrangling led to a group of lawmakers gaining unprecedented access to the National Archives to search for the transcript from the meeting. But they concluded it was not in the sealed archives, and the ruling party asked the prosecution to investigate the disappearance.

Hwang said Saturday that he wants to meet with Kim as soon as possible. The GNP chairman’s offer came as the two parties’ floor leaders agreed on the previous day to stop the political strife. The Democratic Party reacted amicably. “If a formal proposal is made, we will seriously think about it,” a DP spokesman said, noting that they have yet to receive an official offer.

The meeting, if realized, is expected to take place today or tomorrow since Hwang is scheduled to leave the country Wednesday.

As the leaders of the main political parties tried find an exit from the months-long dispute, the prosecution continued its probe into the vanishing of the summit transcript.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office barred several Roh associates from leaving the country, including Kim Man-bok, who served as the director of the National Intelligence Service at the time of the 2007 summit, and Cho Myoung-gyon, who served as Roh’s security policy secretary.

Both Kim and Cho accompanied Roh during his closed-door meeting with Kim in Pyongyang. Cho recorded their dialogue and briefed Roh about the transcript, while Kim and the spy agency under his leadership created the transcript from Cho’s recording.

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

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