President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday called for bipartisan efforts to deal with North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile provocations, calling it an urgent task to ensure not only peace but also the country's economic growth.
"As you know the security condition is very serious. We are greatly concerned that the peace and safety of our people may be threatened due to conditions that we may have little control over," the president said in a meeting with ruling and opposition party leaders.
"I believe now is when we may need bipartisan efforts the most," the president added, according to pool reports.
The meeting involved the leaders of the ruling party and three opposition parties. They are Rep. Choo Mi-ae of the ruling Democratic Party, Ahn Cheol-soo of the liberal People's Party, Rep. Lee Jeong-mi of the progressive Justice Party and Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader and acting chief of the splinter conservative Bareun Party.
Hong Joon-pyo, head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, boycotted Wednesday's meeting, claiming the president only sought to put on a show for his own supporters.
The president renewed his proposal to create a standing consultative body between the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the five major political parties to enable what he has called "co-governance."
"I hope we can quickly form a permanent consultation body of ruling, opposition parties and the government, and to see the ruling and opposition parties discuss security issues with the government at any time within that frame," he said.
Wednesday's meeting between the president and ruling and opposition party leaders marked the third of its kind since Moon took office in May.
However, it followed the North's sixth and apparently most powerful nuclear test so far, staged Sept. 3.
The opposition leaders mostly agreed on the need for all-out efforts to tame the increasingly provocative North Korea, but some raised questions over how to do so.
"There can be no difference between ruling and opposition parties when it comes to national security, and we are ready to actively help. We are only asking (the government) to do it more thoroughly because we believe the ongoing efforts may not be enough," Joo, the acting chief of the conservative Bareun Party, was quoted as saying. (Yonhap News)