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Bipartisan tensions persist over parliamentary probe, Park meeting

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Tensions persisted between rival political parties Thursday as each side insisted on their own terms for a controversial parliamentary probe and a proposed meeting with President Park Geun-hye.

The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) partially resolved the deadlock over the parliamentary probe on Wednesday by agreeing on a list of witnesses.

The probe aims to uncover the truth behind allegations that the state spy agency meddled in last year's presidential election in favor of the ruling party.

The witnesses include then National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Won Sei-hoon and then Seoul police chief Kim Yong-pan. Won has been accused of ordering an online smear campaign against then opposition presidential candidate, Moon Jae-in, while Kim allegedly reduced the scope of a police investigation into the scandal.

The parties also agreed to continue talks over the selection of other witnesses they believe should be included on the list.

On the DP's part, these include Rep. Kim Moo-sung of the ruling party and Ambassador to China Kwon Young-se, both of whom have been accused of obtaining a classified document from the NIS ahead of December's presidential election and using it against the opposition party.

The ruling party has rejected those claims.

"In addition to (Won and Kim Yong-pan), (Kim Moo-sung and Kwon) are also the Maginot Line from which we can't back down," Rep. Jun Byung-hun, the floor leader of the DP, said during a party meeting.

Ahead of Wednesday's agreement, the DP set up a camp in front of Seoul City Hall last week to protest what it claimed was the ruling party's attempt to sabotage the parliamentary investigation.

The DP's chairman, Rep. Kim Han-gil, also called on the president to hold a one-on-one meeting with him to resolve the political impasse.

Park made a counterproposal on Tuesday, offering to hold five-way talks with the leaders and floor leaders of the rival parties, but the DP rejected that proposal and insisted that she meet with Kim in private.

The ruling party criticized the DP's response.

"If (the DP) wants to reject the five-way talks, they should first state that the agenda will not include floor issues," Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, the chairman of the ruling party, said at a Supreme Council meeting.

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