Monday, June 16, 2008

More people join 'Beef Protest' in South Korea as the delegates extended their discussion in the USA

South Korean delegates headed by Trade Minister, Kim Jong-Hoon, have extended its discussion with the USA over the beef issue. Earlier, South Korean Foreign Ministry informed that the two parties have failed to reach any kind of agreement and Seoul’s chief delegates were leaving a day early. Few hours later, news of extending the meeting came from Washington. Upon the request of the USA, for more ministerial-level talks, Kim Jong-Hoon, and Susan Schwab, the US trade representative, will hold further meetings.

As negotiation between South Korea and the USA is going on, things are growing worse. Large number of South Korean construction workers has joined beef import protest. Guardian reports:

To make matters worse for Lee, who took office in February, the latest talks with the US to resolve a row over beef imports faltered overnight without progress.

Lee's decision to lift restrictions on American beef imports in April triggered his sharp fall in the public opinion polls. South Koreans accused Lee of putting relations with the US ahead of public health concerns amid fears of mad cow disease.

South Korean President, Lee Myung Bak, decided to lift up the ban on US-beef and start import from April this year which started a row of serious protests and dealt a big blow to the popularity of the president, who took office in February following his landslide victory in the election.

What South Korea wants now is to stop importing meats of cows older than 30 months for they carry a high risk of mad cow disease. Other countries also do not import older American beef. Japan allows meat of cattle younger than 20 months. In their latest statement, South Korean ministry said that the two-sides had agreed to cooperate in seeking a mutually satisfactory solution but more time was needed to come up with practical steps.

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The New York Times