Lawmakers to begin review of presidential records on NLL

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- A team of lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties was to begin a review of classified presidential records Monday to verify what late former President Roh Moo-hyun said about the western sea border during his 2007 summit with North Korea.

The 10 legislators, five each from the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party, planned to visit the National Archives of Korea in Seongnam, south of Seoul, to take a look at a list of related files and determine which ones they would examine for up to 10 days.

The review was made possible after the rival parties approved a motion earlier this month calling for access to summit transcripts amid conflicting claims over Roh's remarks regarding the Yellow Sea border made during the meeting with then North Korean leader, the late Kim Jong-il.

The ruling party has claimed that Roh, a liberal leader accused of taking too soft a stance on Pyongyang, endangered the country's national security by making remarks to the effect of offering to nullify the maritime border, known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

However, the opposition party claims that Roh made no such offer and his remarks were aimed only at bringing peace to tense areas around the boundary, the largest source of military tension between the two Koreas and the scene of several deadly gun battles.

Late last month, the National Intelligence Service made public its version of summit records, but the document failed to put conflicting claims to rest. The rival parties then agreed to view the full transcript stored at the state archives and passed the motion.

Access to such records is possible with two-thirds support from parliament.

Once the final list of files is selected from about two suitcase-loads of records, the state archives is expected to make two copies of each file and send them to the National Assembly later Monday, officials said.

The 10 lawmakers can then scrutinize the files from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a secured meeting room of the parliamentary steering committee. No electronic devices, such as computers and smart phones, are allowed into the room and the lawmakers can only write down what they see.

Public disclosure of what is in the classified files is banned. But the lawmakers are still expected to go ahead and disclose what they view by taking advantage of their immunity from punishment for remarks made at a National Assembly in session.

The period of review can be extended upon agreement between the parties.

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