SEOUL, The floor leaders of the four political parties failed to narrow their differences over pending contentious issues Tuesday morning but will continue their discussions in efforts to normalize the National Assembly, party officials said.
South Korea's ruling and opposition parties have been at loggerheads over a set of issues, including a proposed independent counsel probe into an online opinion rigging scandal, ahead of a Tuesday deadline to get the parliament back on track.
Earlier in the day, National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun hosted a floor leaders' meeting, which involved Woo Won-shik of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), Kim Sung-tae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), Kim Dong-cheol of the centrist Bareunmirae Party and Roh Hoe-chan, who represents a joint negotiation group of the Justice Party and the Party for Democracy and Peace (PDP).
Chung has set 2:00 p.m. Tuesday as a deadline for their negotiations aimed at normalizing the parliament, which has been crippled by a partisan standoff over the scandal.
They could not reach consensus on how to handle the rigging scandal but decided to continue discussions, given their far-reaching impact ahead of local elections in June.
"Consultations are under way," Woo told reporters after the closed-door session.
The LKP has called for a launch of a special counsel investigation into the scandal that involved a power blogger, nicknamed Druking, with alleged ties to a ruling party lawmaker.
The ruling DP said it could accept the proposal but under condition that lawmakers simultaneously put to a vote a bill on the independent probe and an extra budget bill in a parliamentary session scheduled for May 24.
The partisan stalemate worsened Saturday when a man punched the LKP's whip, while he was on a hunger strike in front of the National Assembly building, calling for an independent counsel investigation into the scandal.
Source: Yonhap News Agency