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Lee , Park discuss power transition in S. Korea

Publication Date : 29-12-2012


South Korean President Lee Myung-bak promised full support to ensure a smooth power transition during a meeting with President-elect Park Geun-hye on Friday.

They also agreed to cooperate to implement the incoming leader’s plans to increase welfare of low-income citizens.

Their one-on-one meeting at Cheong Wa Dae was the first since the president and then ruling Saenuri Party’s presidential candidate had a luncheon meeting on September 2.

During the 40-minute meeting, Park called for government support in passing the budget aimed at enhancing the livelihood of ordinary citizens, expressing concern over people struggling to get through cold winter.

“To address the most urgent issue facing ordinary citizens, it is crucial to pass the budget. Given the difficult economic situation, the budget should be passed so that we can keep the promise (to enhance their livelihood),” she was quoted by her spokesperson as saying.

Lee pledged to make his utmost efforts to ensure the public’s well-being until the end of his term on February 24.

Later in the day, the floor leaders of Saenuri Party and the Democratic United Party reached a tentative agreement to pass next year’s budget bill.

They were at loggerheads over the ruling party’s proposal to increase next year’s spending to implement the president-elect’s welfare pledges.

The two parties are expected to convene a parliamentary plenary session on December 31 to pass the budget bill.

Park was also expected to seek Lee’s advice on pending issues facing the country, management of state affairs and successful operation of the transition committee to organise an effective government, her aides said.

Observers said that the issue of filling some top-level government posts might also be discussed during their meeting. The posts include the Constitutional Court chief and the prosecutor-general.

Before he leaves office in February, Lee can also appoint permanent auditors at the state corporations such as the Korea Electric Power Corp., Korea Technology Finance Corp., Korea Coal Corp. and Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service.

On Tuesday, Park hinted at her opposition to Lee making additional appointments for top posts at state corporations.

“There has recently been word that those with little or no specialty or professionalism have been appointed at state corporations. This is a big burden to people and to the next government. It is wrong,” she said.

In the past, there was tension between the incoming and outgoing leaders over the appointment of high-level government posts as the president-elect wanted to make his own choices for the top posts.

Five years ago, Lee’s transition team sent an official document to Cheong Wa Dae, asking it to refrain from making new appointments before the new government was sworn in.

Observers say as Park and Lee are of the same party, there may not be much conflict over this issue.

Following the ruling party’s 2007 presidential nomination race, Park and Lee had been on bad terms. They had clashed over several major issues including the relocation of government agencies to Sejong City, all of which added to the party’s factional split.

In around 2011, their relationship began improving as she slowly moved to prepare for her bid for Cheong Wa Dae.


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