Moon-Yoon meeting called off due to unfinished working-level consultation

SEOUL-- A planned meeting between President Moon Jae-in and President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has been called off as working-level, pre-meeting discussions have not been completed yet, both sides said.

Moon and Yoon had been scheduled to hold a one-on-one lunch at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday in their first meeting since Yoon won the election last week, though the two spoke by phone a day after the election.

"As working-level consultations have not been completed, we decided to reschedule the meeting," Moon's spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in a statement. "We will continue working-level consultations."

Yoon's spokesperson Kim Eun-hye made similar remarks.

Pre-meeting talks have been led by Lee Cheol-hee, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, and Yoon's chief of staff Chang Je-won to set the agenda for the meeting.

Both sides did not provide details on what the problems were.

But a disagreement over whether to pardon imprisoned former President Lee Myung-bak could be one of them, as Yoon planned to ask for a special pardon for Lee, now serving a 17-year prison term for embezzlement and bribery.

Moon and Yoon had also been expected to discuss a range of other issues, including the presidential transition, coronavirus responses and North Korea's moves to test-fire a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

A senior official at Cheong Wa Dae told Yonhap News Agency the two sides needed more time to set the agenda, saying they did not have sufficient discussions before the Wednesday meeting.

The Wednesday meeting had been originally designed to be an encounter for sharing well-wishing remarks and pledging a smooth transition of power, but it became talks with an official agenda, according to the official.

"In the circumstances, it can be burdensome to have a meeting without having sufficient conversations on the agenda," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

Other thorny issues could include whether Moon should exercise his right to appoint the heads of public institutions in the final months in office, such as the Bank of Korea governor, whose term ends at the end of this month.

Yoon's spokesperson, Kim, said earlier this week Yoon's side asked Cheong Wa Dae to have consultations with the president-elect's camp on personnel appointments for key posts.

However, a senior official at Cheong Wa Dae rebuffed the proposal, saying it is natural for Moon to exercise his authority to appoint personnel until his term ends in early May.

Source: Yonhap News Agency