South Korea's main opposition party on Monday rejected a proposal to invite President Lee Myung-bak to address the parliament about the long-pending free trade agreement with the United States.
Parliamentary Speaker Park Hee-tae made the proposal during a meeting with the floor leaders of the rival parties, but the opposition Democratic Party rebuffed the idea out of concern such an address would increase pressure on the party to approve the trade deal.
The ruling Grand National Party had hoped Lee could use the address to appeal to opposition lawmakers to ratify the agreement that he believes would serve as a boon for South Korea's export-dependent economy.
The DP "effectively refused the proposal out of concern that the president's address could create an atmosphere that pressures the opposition parties to pass the FTA and it could be used for political purposes" ahead of Wednesday's local by-elections, GNP's floor spokesman Hwang Young-chul said in a briefing.
The GNP has a solid majority of 171 seats in the 299-member parliament. But with by-elections set for Wednesday, it has been reluctant to drive the bill through parliament and risk scuffles with opposition parties.