(ATTN: UPDATES with new info in paras 2, 7-9)
SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) — Hong Joon-pyo, the leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), agreed to join this week’s meeting between President Moon Jae-in and political leaders, his aide said Monday.
Moon will host the meeting with the leaders of five parties at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday, focusing on recent developments in cross-border relations, and other security and diplomatic issues, presidential aides said.
Hong initially refused to participate in the talks, demanding the exclusion of minor parties, such as the far-left Justice Party, which has only six parliamentary seats. The presidential office rejected the demand.
“We have notified Han Byung-do, the chief presidential secretary for political affairs, of our decision to join the meeting,” Khang Hyo-shang, Hong’s top aide, told Yonhap News Agency over the phone.
Khang added that Hong decided to join the talks in consideration of the “graveness” of the current security situation.
The presidential office welcomed the decision, calling for bipartisan cooperation in ongoing efforts to improve cross-border relations and broker dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.
“In response to Moon’s invitation, the leaders of the five ruling and opposition parties agreed to join (the talks),” Han told a press briefing.
“We plan to hold broad, in-depth talks vis-a-vis inter-Korean relations and peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.
The meeting will involve the leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, the LKP, the Bareunmirae Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace, and the Justice Party.
During the talks, the president is expected to explain the outcomes of the inter-Korean talks. Moon met the North’s high-level delegations that visited last month to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. He will send his special envoys to Pyongyang on Monday afternoon.
Moon is also likely to urge political parties to more actively seek progress on a constitutional revision, which he hopes to put to a public referendum at the same time as the local elections in June.
This photo, taken March 2, 2018, shows Hong Joon-pyo, the leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaking during a forum on a constitutional revision at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)