Opposition Leader Choo Mi-ae Cancels her 'Heart to Heart' Talk with President Park Geun-hye
SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- Choo Mi-ae, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, retracted her proposal on Monday to hold bilateral talks with President Park Geun-hye amid strong resistance from her colleagues and other political parties.
Earlier in the day, Choo made the offer to hold talks with Park to discuss the current political deadlock sparked by a massive corruption scandal involving the president's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.
Park and Choo were set to sit down for the meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
But during a general meeting of party lawmakers, Choo accepted calls from her colleagues not to engage in talks. Opposition lawmakers stressed holding dialogue would go against the public sentiment and undermine cooperation with other parties in coping with the scandal.
"During the party's general meeting, we have reached agreement that we will call for President Park's resignation, and given that this stance has already been made public, party members expressed their opinions against the meeting (with Park)," Choo told reporters.
"I respect their views," she said.
Choo added that she had intended to meet with Park to "convey the voice of the people" to her as the president's recent remarks indicted her failure to grasp public sentiment.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae expressed dismay over the abrupt cancellation of the meeting, while maintaining its position to seek close communication with the opposition bloc.
"The doors for dialogue remain open as always," a Cheong Wa Dae official said, declining to be named.
"Our stance to pursue dialogue remains unchanged, irrespective of the format," the official said.
There has been a yawning gap between the presidential office and opposition bloc over how to bring the nation, gripped by the political scandal, back on track.
The opposition parties demand that Park bow out as head of state. But the presidential office has indicated that Park will exercise her lawful authority enshrined in the Constitution, such as her control over the armed forces.
The minor opposition People's Party welcomed Choo's cancellation of the meeting, saying it will spur its campaign for Park's to step down.
"Choo's decision confirms the public sentiment shown through the candlelight vigil attended by 1 million citizens, and underscores firm cooperation among the three opposition parties," Park Jie-won, the party's interim leader, said in a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, the prosecution plans to question Park as a "witness" on Tuesday or Wednesday in a face-to-face format over her possible involvement in the corruption scandal linked to her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, who has been charged with abuse of authority and attempted fraud.
The probe will mark the first time a sitting South Korean president will face a formal prosecutorial investigation.'