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HHI controlling shareholder firms ties with Korean president

Seoul: The man in control of the world's largest shipbuilder is rarely out of the spotlight for long. Chung Mong-joon joined the Grand National Party only last month. Yesterday, he was elected to the party's Supreme Council, its top decision-making body. Chung, vice president of FIFA and the controlling shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries, is a five-term lawmaker who represented Ulsan as an independent until last month, when he threw his support behind Lee Myung-bak before the Dec. 19 presidential election. The post, one of five elected seats on the council, had been vacant since November, when Lee Jae-oh resigned to apologize for making negative remarks about former party chairman Park Geun-hye. Chung's main task will be to smooth over tensions between incoming President-elect Lee Myung-bak and Park, whom Lee narrowly defeated in the Grand National primary. In addition, the party is getting ready for the April legislative elections, in which every seat in the National Assembly will be contested.

Chung met privately with President-elect Lee yesterday morning to report on his recent trip to the United States as Lee's special envoy. But unlike the other three meetings that Lee had with his envoys to Japan, China and Russia, this meeting was not opened to reporters. The two talked for about 55 minutes. According to an aide, Chung talked about his meeting with U.S. President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Chung also delivered the U.S. government's offer to host a Korea-U.S. summit as soon as Lee takes office. [31/01/08]

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