President Moon Jae-in sought to rally opposition support for his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a rare meeting with the chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) Friday.
The meeting between Moon and LKP chairman Hong Joon-pyo was held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
It started at 2:30 p.m. and lasted about 80 minutes, according to Han Byung-do, Moon's top secretary for political affairs.
"President Moon and Chairman Hong held frank discussions on foreign and security issues ahead of the South-North summit," he told a press briefing.
Moon is set to meet the North Korean leader on April 27 for what would be a third inter-Korean summit, which is set to be followed by the first ever North Korea-U.S. summit in May or early June.
"The president noted it would not be desirable for the opposition party to oppose the inter-Korean summit, since it is already set to be held," the Cheong Wa Dae official said. "He then called for bipartisan support for the summit."
The opposition party leader said he and his party did not oppose holding an inter-Korean summit but that the government must not repeat its mistakes of the past, according to Han.
The Cheong Wa Dae official did not elaborate, but the LKP earlier said its chief has reiterated the party's opposition to a step-by-step approach in denuclearizing the North, which it has called a failed method that has only allowed the reclusive state to buy time for advancing its nuclear program.
Despite its agreement to denuclearize in two previous inter-Korean summits held in 2000 and 2007, the North continued to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities, staging its sixth nuclear test just last year. The latest test, conducted in September, is also considered the most powerful so far.
Hong demanded that Seoul take a "Libya-style" approach that calls for the North's denuclearization within a span of six months to a year before any compensation could be given. Washington is seen as favoring this approach, his party officials said earlier.
The opposition leader also voiced his party's concerns about potential "cracks" in the alliance with the United States, saying Moon should make efforts to further strengthen it.
In addition, Hong demanded the president retract his proposal for an early constitutional revision and dismiss new Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) chief Kim Ki-sik, who is under fire for a series of alleged missteps during his stint as a lawmaker years ago.
The LKP leader also called on Moon to stop what his party calls "political retribution," referring to a series of top officials from former conservative governments who have been arrested or currently on trial for suspected corruption. They include former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.
Commenting on the June local elections, Hong requested that Moon refrain from any activities that could raise questions about his political neutrality.
He, moreover, lambasted Moon's "income-led growth" strategy, saying it has not helped improve the country's economy. The strategy seeks to address income disparities and revitalize growth by creating jobs and raising household incomes.
Han said the president only listened to Hong's views when it came to domestic and political issues.
Friday's meeting came amid the LKP's calls for the president to sack the new FSS chief for taking inappropriate, if not illicit, overseas trips sponsored by financial institutions subject to oversight by the parliamentary committee, of which he was a member.