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Moon to meet political party leaders Sunday amid political stalemate

President Moon Jae-in will meet the heads of five political parties over the weekend, party officials said Friday, amid a political impasse over key reform bills and other pending issues.

Moon has invited the political leaders to his office Cheong Wa Dae for a dinner gathering set for Sunday, the first such meeting in about four months.

He intends to express his thanks to the party chiefs for their condolences over the death of his mother in late October.

The party chiefs, including Lee Hae-chan, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, and Hwang Kyo-ahn, chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, reportedly voiced their willingness to attend the meeting.

It would be Moon's first such meeting since July, when they gathered to discuss ways to cope with Japan's export curbs against Seoul.

Moon is expected to hold a closed-door meeting with the party chiefs, apparently in order not to give political meaning to the session. Cheong Wa Dae may not hold a press briefing over the meeting.

But the meeting appears to carry political weight, given that it is timed with the beginning of the latter half of Moon's single five-year tenure.

The session also comes amid political tensions over a monthslong controversy surrounding former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, one of Moon's closest aides.

Cho abruptly resigned last month after street protests for and against his appointment. His family is under probe into alleged irregularities, including his wife's questionable investment in a private equity fund.

Political parties have been wrangling over key political and judiciary reform bills that were placed on the fast track in April despite objections from the LKP.

In particular, rival parties sharply differ over the prosecution reform-related bills, including a proposal to set up an independent unit to probe corruption allegations by high-ranking public officials.

Other contentious issues include a parliamentary review of the government's 513.5 trillion-won ($444 billion) budget for next year and the looming expiry of Seoul's military information-sharing pact with Japan.

DP chief Lee is forecast to call for cooperation by opposition parties for the passage of the budget bill and the fast-tracked legislation.

But LKP leader Hwang is widely expected to raise the need for Moon to make an apology over the ex-justice minister-related row.

He will likely voice the conservative party's opposition to the envisioned probe unit. (Yonhap)