SEOUL, The ruling and opposition parties agreed Monday to put aside the contentious proposal to ratify April's summit agreement between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un until after their the third summit next week.
The compromise, reached during a weekly meeting of the floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party, came as opposition parties showed no willingness to ratify the April 27 deal.
The government of President Moon and his ruling party have pushed to get the National Assembly to ratify the Panmunjom Declaration in order to ensure its implementation through future administrations. The government plans to submit a ratification proposal after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
But the LKP and the Bareunmirae Party rejected the proposal, saying ratification can wait until further progress is made in the North's denuclearization process.
"If (the government) sends the ratification proposal to the National Assembly, we're going to discuss it sufficiently and hold further discussions after (next week's) summit is over," Rep. Hong Young-pyo, floor leader of the ruling party, told reporters.
"We agreed not to politicize this at a difficult time ahead of the third summit.
Hong's main opposition counterpart, Rep. Kim Sung-tae, said that if substantial progress is made in next week's summit, the National Assembly is willing to back it up.
"It's fairly meaningful for us to agree not to engage in unnecessary political bickering," he said.
Earlier in the day, the rival parties wrangled over the issue, with DP leader Lee Hae-chan pressing strongly for early ratification before next week's summit set for Sept. 18-20 and opposition parties balking at the idea.
"Parliamentary ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration is not a political process, but a legal process," Lee said during a party meeting held in the administrative city of Sejong. "We must pass this during the current National Assembly session."
Lee argued that by law, issues involving fiscal expenditures must win parliamentary consent first. He also said that the government will submit a ratification proposal together with an estimate of expenditures necessary to carry out the agreement.
Lee also said that the agreement's ratification will help next week's third summit between Moon and the North's leader go more smoothly.
The main opposition LKP balked at early ratification.
"This is not the time to hasten" ratification, the LKP's floor leader Kim said. "What the Moon Jae-in government should first do is meet with Kim Jong-un and make substantial process on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Bareunmirae Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu also said the summit agreement is too vague to ratify.
"If the National Assembly ratifies a vague and abstract agreement, it would amount to the legislative branch giving full authority to the executive branch," Sohn said. "If political backing is necessary for the inter-Korean agreement, it would be desirable for the ruling and opposition parties to unanimously adopt a resolution supporting the Panmunjom Declaration."
Should progress be made in the denuclearization process and the two Koreas agree to further specifics, then can the National Assembly consider ratification, Sohn said. That would also help dispel U.S. concern and strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance, he said.
In the Panmunjom Declaration, Moon and Kim agreed to end the countries' hostility toward each other, saying there must never be another war on the Korean Peninsula. The divided Koreas technically remain at war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The agreement also calls for efforts to formally end the 1950-53 war before the year's end.
Past inter-Korea summit agreements, reached in 2000 and 2007, when liberal Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun were in office, respectively, didn't win parliamentary ratification, which caused their implementation to fizzle out under conservative governments.
Source: Yonhap News Agency