Hwang battles Blue House over 1-on-1 talk

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Hwang battles Blue House over 1-on-1 talk

The Blue House and the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) continued bickering Tuesday over a plan to arrange a meeting between President Moon Jae-in and LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn to end the deadlock in the National Assembly.

The Blue House on Tuesday proposed a meeting between Moon and the leaders of five major political parties, and a separate one-on-one meeting between Moon and Hwang on Friday before Moon departs for an eight-day, three-nation trip to Northern Europe later this week.

Over the past weeks, the Blue House has sought to restart the president’s consultations with leaders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and four opposition parties - the LKP, Bareunmirae Party, Party for Democracy and Peace and Justice Party - to discuss pending issues amid a political standstill caused by the LKP’s boycott of the legislature.

“It is to normalize the National Assembly before the president leaves for the overseas trip and resume the stalled dialogues,” said Senior Presidential Secretary for Political Affairs Kang Gi-jung. Moon is scheduled to visit Finland, Norway and Sweden from Sunday until June 16.

“We have already made the proposal to the LKP last Friday that Moon wants to meet with the five political party leaders and have a separate one-on-one meeting with LKP Chairman Hwang on the upcoming Friday,” Kang said.

“Until now, we have accepted everything that Hwang and the LKP demanded, including expansion of the agenda and having a separate one-on-one meeting,” Kang said. “We believe now is the time to start preparation for the talks.”

Moon originally suggested that he wanted to meet with the political leaders to discuss his plan to send humanitarian food aid to North Korea. The LKP later countered that it wants an exclusive summit between the president and its chairman to discuss a wide range of issues, not just food assistance.

A senior Blue House official said Tuesday that its latest proposal is a “political compromise between the LKP’s demand for a one-on-one meeting and the president’s wish to meet all five parties’ leaders.” He also said Moon will meet with the five leaders first and sit down with Hwang later if the meetings are agreed to. Yet the official admitted that the LKP had already turned down the offer.

“We got the reply late Sunday, but the LKP still insisted on an exclusive meeting with the president,” he said. “The LKP also said it is willing to participate in a meeting between Moon and the three largest parties, and then a one-on-one meeting between Hwang and Moon. But we cannot accept the counterproposal.”

When asked why the Blue House was making an invitation that was already rejected by the LKP public, the official said, “because we have nothing else to offer.”

“The invitation to have meetings in the afternoon of Friday is still valid,” the official said. “We hope the LKP and Hwang will make a bold decision.” He also said it is urgent that the deadlock at the National Assembly be resolved.

“It’s been 41 days as of today since the supplementary budget bill was submitted,” he said, stressing the urgency of implementing the additional budget to help the economy. Later in the day, LKP Chairman Hwang said he would concede to having a one-on-one meeting with Moon after a meeting between the president and leaders of the ruling party and the two largest opposition parties, which are negotiation blocs in the legislature.

“The Blue House offered a one-on-one meeting after a multiparty meeting,” Hwang said Tuesday. “A meaningful multiparty meeting is a meeting of negotiation blocs.”

A negotiation bloc is a political party with more than 20 lawmakers. It has the right to send representatives to legislative negotiations and schedule legislative committee meetings. It is also entitled to larger state subsidies.

Hwang also said there is a total of seven political parties in the National Assembly and questioned the Blue House’s logic in proposing a multiparty meeting with only five parties.

“If the president allows me a time to meet exclusively, I will propose him plans to overcome the people’s hardships that I have heard while touring the nation,” Hwang said. “If other parties also have different ideas to offer, Moon should also meet with them one-on-one.”

Hwang also said he mainly wants to address the country’s economic crisis if he meets with Moon.

“Just talking about a plan to give food to North Korea is meaningless,” he said.

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