Park calls reps to Blue House to talk legislation

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Park calls reps to Blue House to talk legislation

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President Park Geun-hye, left, has a meeting with Kim Moo-sung, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, Lee Wan-koo, its floor leader, and Joo Ho-young, its chief policy maker, yesterday in the Blue House. [NEWSIS]

President Park Geun-hye meet with leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party at the Blue House Thursday afternoon to ask their cooperation on impending bills and to describe the diplomatic accomplishments of her recent nine-day trip to China, Myanmar and Australia.

The meeting followed one held on the afternoon of Sept. 16, which came hours after she railed against lawmakers procrastinating over legislation.

Park called for the National Assembly’s quick ratification of the Korea-Australia free trade agreement (FTA), citing research that claims if the deal does not go into effect by the end of this year, tariff eliminations by the pact could come up to nine months later than tariff eliminations by Japan’s FTA with Australia, potentially causing a $460 million loss in exports.

In addition, Park predicted that China would speed up its ratification process for an FTA with Australia, and that would put Korea at further risk of losing economic gains if it dawdles.

She also proudly said that Korea’s economic growth strategy based on her signature three-year economic innovation plan received the highest marks from G-20 member countries.

“I think we need support and cooperation from the political realm so that the achievements gained from my trip could be maximized, building a foundation for economic take-off and eventually making Koreans happier,” Park said.

The get-together was attended by Kim Moo-sung, Saenuri president; Lee Wan-koo, floor leader; and Joo Ho-young, head of policy committee. From the Blue House, Kim Ki-choon, presidential chief of staff, and Cho Yoon-sun, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, were also in attendance.

However, the leadership of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) did not show up at the gathering even after a Blue House invitation, citing the inappropriateness of its timing.

“It is true that the Blue House requested a meeting with NPAD leaders,” said the opposition in a statement. “But we concluded this is not the right time, given the main and opposition parties currently remain in confrontation at the Assembly over the budget for 2015 and over whether to launch a parliamentary investigation into alleged corruption cases involving the previous administration.”

Moon Hee-sang, head of the emergency measure committee of the NPAD, told reporters that ruling and opposition parties meeting often at the Blue House is not necessarily good.

“This is the time when standing committee and floor leaders are supposed to meet often to adjust policies ahead of the closure of the plenary session,” he said. “If we went to the Blue House out of the blue, the gathering would produce some guidelines, which would never help [negotiations.]”

The ruling party and opposition should finalize reviewing the budget bill by Nov. 30 but are having a hard time finding common ground. The Saenuri Party earlier pledged to pass budget bills by the legally binding deadline of Dec. 2.


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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