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Opposition party chief rejects tentative deal on spy agency reform

Opposition party chief rejects tentative deal on spy agency reform

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Published : 2013-12-29 15:15
Updated : 2013-12-29 15:15

The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) rejected a tentative agreement on how to reform the intelligence agency, saying he cannot accept a deal that lacks a complete ban on spy agents from visiting government agencies for intelligence-gathering.

Kim Han-gil called for a renegotiation to include the ban, saying it was part of a set of principles the DP and the ruling Saenuri Party established before launching negotiations on reforming the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Kim also said President Park Geun-hye also promised such a ban.

Ranking members of the rival parties on the special parliamentary committee on NIS reform worked out the tentative deal last week, agreeing on a clause that calls for forbidding unlawful intelligence-gathering activities through visits by spy agents to government agencies.

Kim's point was that the clause was not enough and that a tougher ban should be specified.

"The DP won't be pushed around by the Saenuri Party," he said in a news conference.

NIS agents, known as IOs (intelligence officers), have long made routine visits to government agencies, the National Assembly, political parties and news organizations to monitor their day-to-day activities. Critics have denounced the practice as unwarranted spying.

The rival parties have been in agreement on banning IO visits to the National Assembly, political parties and news organizations.

But they have differed on what to do with IO visits to government agencies, with the ruling party demanding such visits are crucial for intelligence activities.

The rival parties launched negotiations on NIS reform to set new rules of activity for the spy agency accused of mobilizing some of its agents to post Internet comments last year in favor of then ruling party presidential candidate and now President Park.

The ruling party protested Kim's rejection of the deal.

"It is truly weird for the opposition party chief to kick an agreement between floor leaders of the two parties," said Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, deputy floor spokesman of the Saenuri Party, denouncing Kim's demand as "excessive."

Yoon said there is no point in establishing the special parliamentary committee and having it discuss NIS reform if the opposition chief can veto the results of negotiations between the two parties.

"I don't understand if this is a Democratic Party-style democracy," he said. (Yonhap News)

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