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Assembly speaker seeks to send delegation to N. Korea

South Korea's parliamentary chief said Friday he will consider sending a delegation of lawmakers to North Korea to give fresh impetus to inter-Korean relations.

National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang said an improvement in relations between the two Koreas is indispensable to the success of bilateral negotiations between the United States and North Korea.

(National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang (Yonhap)
(National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang (Yonhap)

"There should be new momentum in inter-Korean relations. On the parliamentary level, I'll push to send a delegation to the North," Moon said in a news conference marking the first anniversary of his election as the Assembly leader.

"I and the floor leaders (of major parties) agreed to realize the delegation idea at the earliest possible time during a meeting on July 8. We'll also closely consult with the government on the issue and expect a positive response from the North after a formal proposal is made," Moon said.

The speaker gave a positive evaluation of the recent gathering of leaders of the two Koreas and the US at the border peace village of Panmunjom, calling it an important turning point in the Korean Peninsula peace process and a source of fresh momentum for the resumption of the North-US talks.

Moon then called for nonpartisan cooperation for the swift passage of a 6.7 trillion-won ($5.7 billion) supplementary budget bill, which has been pending in parliament since April amid a partisan dispute over its size.

On Thursday, the ruling Democratic Party vowed to increase the extra budget by 300 billion won to 7 trillion won to help local businesses cope with Japan's export restrictions. Japan last week removed preferential treatment for the export of three key materials used for the manufacturing of chips and smartphone displays to South Korean firms in an apparent protest against Seoul over its handling of the wartime forced labor issue.

"(South Korea) is required to make a strategic choice in the face of US-China trade conflict. Moreover, the South Korean economy faces adverse effects from Japan's export regulations.

Thus, all parties should cooperate to pass the extra budget bill and jointly respond to an economic crisis," Moon said. (Yonhap)