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Moon's meeting with party leaders set for Thursday

The office of President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday welcomed a rare bipartisan decision on a proposed group meeting between Moon and the heads of five major political parties.

Cheong Wa Dae welcomed the bipartisan cooperation at a time when all relevant parties need to pool their wisdom on ways to cope with Japan's tougher export restrictions against South Korean firms, the office's spokesperson, Ko Min-jung, said at a press briefing.

President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

Hours earlier, the ruling Democratic Party and four opposition parties announced that they agreed to have the meeting with Moon. It is scheduled to take place at Cheong Wa Dae from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday.

It will be Moon's first Cheong Wa Dae meeting with party leaders since March 2018. He had a separate meeting with the floor leaders of the parties last November.

No follow-up session has been held amid sharp partisan strife especially over the ruling bloc's push to get election and prosecution reform bills passed at the National Assembly.

Ko stopped short of elaborating the agenda items, saying, "We will be able to speak concretely about that on the (meeting) day."

At the National Assembly, Rep. Yun Ho-jong, secretary general of the DP, said, "The five parties agreed on bipartisan efforts to minimize the impact of Japan's export curbs on the Korean economy and resolve the issue in the shortest time possible amid unprecedented trade tension between both countries."

He was briefing media on the results of consultations with his counterparts from the four other parties -- the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, the center-right Bareunmirae Party, the progressive Justice Party and the center-left Party for Democracy and Peace.

During their meeting with Moon, the party leaders are expected to be briefed on the government's strategy on Japan's export curbs and discuss countermeasures, with some other pending issues apparently on the table as well.

Last month, the DP's head, Rep. Lee Hae-chan, proposed a gathering of Moon and political party leaders.

The LKP chairman, Hwang Kyo-ahn, said Wednesday that he was willing to attend such a meeting, citing the emergency situation involving Japan's trade measure.

Japan began applying stricter export rules on South Korea for three key materials needed for making chips and displays on July 4 in apparent response to Seoul's handling of a wartime forced labor issue.

Tokyo is pushing to remove South Korea from a list of trusted buyers, which could negatively affect the supply of other key materials needed for making smartphones, televisions and other industrial materials.

In May, Moon expressed hope for a meeting with political party chiefs to discuss Seoul's plan to send food aid to North Korea. But the LKP rejected it, demanding a one-on-one meeting between Moon and its leader, Hwang.

As the parties agreed not to limit the scope of the agenda for Thursday's meeting, the participants may discuss the North Korea nuclear problem and other issues, such as an extra budget bill and election reform. (Yonhap)