SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in began talks with ruling and opposition party leaders Thursday afternoon on urgent issues that include Japan's trade pressure on South Korea and how to reinvigorate the local economy.
They started the Cheong Wa Dae meeting at around 4 p.m. and it was scheduled to last about two hours.
The occasion marks Moon's first formal group meeting with the heads of the five parties -- the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), the center-right Bareunmirae Party, the progressive Justice Party and the center-left Party for Democracy and Peace -- since March 2018.
The session follows months of sharp political rifts, mainly over the Moon administration's reform drive, economic policy and North Korea strategy.
The LKP chief, Hwang Kyo-ahn, suddenly accepted the offer of the group meeting with the president as Seoul is confronted with Tokyo's stricter export restrictions, an apparent retaliatory step over historical matters.
Moon's top priority is to draw bipartisan support for efforts to weather the emergency situation, which he called "unprecedented."
He's also expected to ask the LKP and the other opposition parties to pass a multi-billion dollar supplementary budget bill.
Earlier in the day, the Bank of Korea cut its policy rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.50 percent. The central bank also slashed its growth outlook for this year to 2.2 percent from the 2.5 percent projected three months earlier.
Moon hopes to produce an agreement in writing from the gathering with the party leaders. But the LKP reportedly favors a joint press statement to sum up the results of the event.
In particular, conservative opposition party leaders will likely demand the ruling bloc stop a move to handle bills on political and judicial reform, which have been placed on the "fast track."