Blue House arranges party talks

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Blue House arranges party talks

President Park Geun-hye will meet with the chairmen and floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties tomorrow, the presidential office said Tuesday.

“The meeting, in which the president proposed to meet with the chairmen and floor leaders of the two parties, will take place at the Blue House at 3 p.m. [tomorrow],” Kim Sung-woo, the senior presidential secretary for public affairs, said Tuesday evening.

Park on Monday proposed a meeting with the chairmen and floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) to discuss her trip to Washington last week.

The meeting will touch upon the speedy ratification of Korea’s free-trade agreements with China, Vietnam and New Zealand and next year’s budget, Kim said. They are also expected to discuss five bills concerning the restructuring of the labor market as well as bills aimed at revitalizing the economy.

On Tuesday, the NPAD confirmed that its chairman and floor leader would attend the meeting.

“We plan to have in-depth discussions on state control over history textbooks, the economy, labor market reform, inter-Korean relations and other issues on the Korean Peninsula,” said NPAD spokesman Kim Sung-soo.

After Park proposed the meeting on Monday, the NPAD alternately proposed that its chairman, Moon Jae-in, meet with the president and Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung without the floor leaders. After more talks with the Blue House, Moon apparently agreed to include the floor leaders.

“The Supreme Council members expressed concern that if there were too many participants, they would simply listen to what the president wants or just debate without reaching a conclusion,” NPAD spokesman Kim said Monday.

“We want to listen to Park’s thoughts on her recent decision to restore state control over history textbooks, and we also want to deliver clearly our stance on labor reform and the economy. So we reached the conclusion that a meeting with just the president and the two chairmen is more desirable.”

Moon, however, was criticized for his counterproposal, first from party floor leader, Rep. Lee Jong-kul, who said that the NPAD chairman should have rejected the Blue House’s proposal rather than attempting to exclude him and his Saenuri counterpart from the meeting.

“If he wanted to reject the president’s offer, he should have just said no, rather than proposing a different format,” Lee told News 1. “Moon can make a strategic counterproposal, but it would have been more reasonable for him to just decide whether to accept. It’s inappropriate for him to demand a different format.”

The Saenuri Party also criticized Moon for trying to drag the president into a political conflict rather than discuss pressing policies.

“The labor bills, the passage of the budget bill and the issue of the free-trade agreements require candid discussion by both floor leaders,” Saenuri Party spokesman Kim Young-woo said during an interview with the Pyeonghwa Broadcasting Corporation. “This is just an attempt to politicize the issues.”

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

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