President Park Geun-hye on Thursday offered three-way talks with ruling and opposition party leaders to end a parliamentary impasse over the National Intelligence Service’s alleged interference in last year’s election.
The opposition Democratic Party, whose chairman has been requesting a one-on-one meeting with Park since early August, withheld its answer, raising doubts about the president’s sincerity.
At a press briefing about the results of Park’s recent overseas trip, senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun said that the president will first brief the National Assembly speaker, and the floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the DP, then go on to hold a three-way meeting with the two parties’ chairmen.
“This is an offer to discuss the issues raised by the opposition party with the DP chairman and the Saenuri chairman at the National Assembly,” Lee said.
“This is the expression of a strong will to actively discuss issues. It is an expression of respect for the parliament and requesting its cooperation.”
He added that holding the meeting at the National Assembly reflects the president’s will to be “transparent in front of the public,” saying that there was no issue the president cannot discuss with the leaders of the ruling and main opposition parties.
DP spokesman Rep. Kim Kwan-young said that the party will draw up its official position after verifying the intentions and the topics that will be discussed at the meeting.
The president‘s offer came hours after Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan and DP floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun agreed to cooperate in normalizing the National Assembly’s operations before the Chuseok holidays.
Choi and Jun held an early morning meeting on Thursday and agreed in principle to normalize operations, but came away without narrowing their differences on the issues that have held back the regular session of the parliament getting underway.
“I hope the parliament will be normalized before Chuseok. Whether (the parliament) can lessen the worries of the public is up to President Park Geun-hye and Cheong Wa Dae’s attitude,” Jun said at the meeting of high-level DP officials after the interparty conference.
Although the 100-day regular session opened on Sept. 2, the two main parties have yet to hammer out the schedule with the DP calling for a meeting with the president, and an explanation about National Intelligence Service’s alleged involvement in last year’s presidential election.
For its part, the ruling party has been urging the DP to end its street campaign, and threatening to forge ahead with the regular session without the main opposition.
By Choi He-suk