SEOUL, Ruling party leader Lee Hae-chan on Monday pressed for the parliamentary ratification of April's summit agreement with North Korea, urging opposition parties not to politicize what he called a "legal process" that must be completed.
The government of President Moon Jae-in and his Democratic Party want the National Assembly to ratify the Panmunjom Declaration reached between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in their first summit on April 27 in order to ensure its implementation through future administrations.
The government plans to submit a ratification proposal after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party are negative about the move, arguing that ratification can wait until further progress is made in the North's denuclearization process.
"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.
"As some opposition parties are still opposed, we will try to persuade them," he said.
The main opposition LKP balked at early ratification.
"This is not the time to hasten" ratification, Rep. Kim Sung-tae, the LKP's floor leader, 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."
LKP leader Kim Byong-joon accused the ruling DP of labeling opposition parties as anti-peace groups for rejecting ratification when no progress has been made in denuclearization.
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