President to meet with party leaders next week

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President to meet with party leaders next week

President Park Geun-hye and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties are scheduled to sit down for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss a wide range of state affairs.

The ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung and Moon Jae-in, the chairman of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) will meet with Park at the Blue House at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Rep. Kim Hyun-mi of the NPAD said on Thursday.

“At the summit, the leaders will discuss President Park’s recent trip to the Middle East and the economic livelihood issues that Moon has proposed,” said the lawmaker, who serves as Moon’s chief of staff.

Before Park left on her Middle East tour earlier this month, Saenuri Chairman Kim had requested that Park invite party leaders to the Blue House to discuss the outcome of the trip. Moon also supported the idea.

While the meeting’s agenda on the surface will concern Park’s diplomatic visit, other issues - particularly those concerning the economy - are expected to be addressed. It’s also likely that the Park administration’s goal to reform the debt-ridden pension system for public servants and pending legislation concerning economic recovery will be put on the table.

This is the first time Park and Moon, former opponents in the 2012 presidential election, will sit down for talks. They had a brief exchange at this year’s March 1 Independence Movement anniversary ceremony, though their last substantial encounter was the televised presidential debate on Dec. 16, 2012. The meeting comes at a politically sensitive time.

Park has just completed the first two years of her five-year presidential term and has been struggling to maintain her grip over state affairs and improve her reputation for being out of touch with public sentiment.

Moon, on the other hand, made a grand political comeback in February as the leader of the main opposition party and declared that he would be more assertive toward the Park government.

Moon said Thursday that he wants to have a “candid” talk with the president, acknowledging that the economy would be a key agenda item. After the meeting was announced, Moon told reporters that “it is my goal to have a candid conversation with the president because there are different ways to work toward the same goal of an economic recovery.”

While sensitive domestic politics will unlikely be put up for discussion, security issues, including the recent attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, could be addressed. Shortly after his election as opposition chairman, Moon requested a meeting with Park to discuss the economy and national security.

Since she took office in February 2013, the president has had several meetings with the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties, but not all of them were fruitful.

While a meeting in April 2013 with the interim leader of the main opposition ended amicably, a three-way meeting with the chairmen of the ruling and opposition parties in September 2013 produced no progress, failing to end the weeks-long paralysis of the National Assembly.

The last meeting between Park and the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties in October had a more substantial outcome. The consultation ended with 15 agreements, including a pledge to approve the following year’s budget before the statutory deadline.

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

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