Saenuri Party Chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea on Monday suggested holding a three-way meeting among President Park Geun-hye, Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil and himself, raising hopes for an end to bipartisan deadlock over the parliamentary probe into the National Intelligence Service.
“As the chairman of the ruling party, I suggest a trilateral meeting where the chief of the ruling and opposition parties meet with the president,” Hwang said at Monday’s Supreme Council meeting.
“I implore the DP and the president to agree to the trilateral meeting in the near future and open the way to resolve political issues.”
Although Cheong Wa Dae left the offer open, the presidential office appeared more open to the three-way meeting than it was toward a one-on-one meeting with DP chairman Rep. Kim.
“As there was a suggestion from Hwang, it will be considered. Many issues will be looked at,” senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun said.
On Saturday and Sunday, Kim had called on President Park to meet him to discuss related issues but Cheong Wa Dae had remained silent on the issue.
As for the opposition party, it appeared ready to accept Hwang’s alternative.
“As the political situation is grave, (the party) will not be tied down by formalities and protocol if there is an official suggestion from Cheong Wa Dae,” Kim Han-gil was quoted as saying by DP spokesman Rep. Kim Kwan-young.
As the two parties searched for a way out of the deadlock, the NIS’ briefing session at the National Assembly got underway after initial delays.
The session was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., but was postponed until 2 p.m. when it was found that the three terrestrial broadcasters did not plan to provide live coverage of the briefing.
The Saenuri Party’s Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, the ruling party’s representative for the probe, opened by accusing the DP of distorting the facts to make the NIS’ normal activities appear as election interference.
Kweon also criticized the prosecution’s decision to indict Won for violating the Public Official Election Act, saying that it was unfair and illogical.
His DP counterpart Rep. Jung Cheong-rae hit back, saying that last year’s presidential election was illegal due to NIS interference.
Jung also raised the issue of the missing 2007 inter-Korean summit transcript, which contains information regarding former President Roh Moo-hyun’s comments on the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea, and called on NIS chief Nam Jae-joon to resign.
The parliamentary probe into the NIS’ alleged attempts to influence last year’s presidential election got underway in early July. However, the probe has fallen behind schedule due to disagreements over several issues including the list of witnesses.
With the probe set to end on Aug. 15, it is in jeopardy of ending without those involved in the alleged election interference attempts being questioned.
The DP has called for former NIS chief Won Sei-hoon, former Seoul police chief Kim Yong-pan, Saenuri Party lawmaker Rep. Kim Moo-sung and Korean Ambassador to China Kwon Young-se to testify at the National Assembly.
The ruling party has rejected the demands regarding Kim Moo-sung and Kwon on the grounds that they were never included in the scope of the probe.
By Choi He-suk