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Rival party leaders to meet over political standoff

Leaders of the ruling and main opposition parties will meet later Monday to discuss a way out of the political standoff surrounding the state's alleged interference in last year's presidential election and other issues, both sides said.

The meeting comes as the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) are locked in a bitter dispute over allegations that the state spy agency and other government bodies posted comments online in favor of then ruling party candidate and now president, Park Geun-hye, ahead of last December's vote.

The opposition party has demanded a special independent investigation into the allegations, but the ruling party has refused, citing an ongoing prosecution probe into the case.

"I've thought long and hard, and somehow this situation must be resolved," Hwang Woo-yea, the ruling party chief, said at a Supreme Council meeting. "I propose that the ruling and opposition parties hold an unconditional four-way meeting to normalize the political situation."

The meeting would involve the respective chiefs and floor leaders of the two parties, he added.

DP chief Kim Han-gil accepted the proposal, saying the meeting was first proposed by him last week.

"I don't yet know the details, but since I proposed the meeting, I will meet him during the day," Kim said at a general assembly of DP lawmakers.

Last week, Kim proposed a four-member consultative group comprised of the leaders and floor leaders of the respective parties to resolve the dispute over the election meddling scandal and discuss ways to handle the government's 2014 budget and key pending bills.

The National Assembly has already missed the Dec. 2 deadline for the passage of the budget plan due to the standoff, prompting concerns that the government may have to draw up a provisional budget for the first time in the country's history. A provisional budget is expected to hurt the economic recovery.

Monday's meeting comes as the opposition party has boycotted all parliamentary proceedings in protest of the ruling party's unilateral confirmation of President Park's nominee for chief state auditor, Hwang Chan-hyon. (Yonhap News)

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