06/16/2008, 00.00
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No deal between Washington and Seoul on beef imports

The Seoul government asks for a ban on beef over 30 months old, because of the possible risks of mad cow disease. Imports began again in April after a four year stop.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Still no agreement between South Korea and the United States on beef imports: Seoul wants the US to agree to a ban on exporting beef from cattle older than 30 months because of  concerns over BSE, or mad cow disease.  During talks being held this week in the American capital both parties failed to reach a deal, but Korean sources state that “negotiations will continue”.

South Korea agreed in April to resume imports of US beef, which were suspended in 2003 after a case of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, ed) was detected there. The lifting of the suspension however has led to widespread popular protests, with the general public seriously concerned about the health risks.  The protests culminated in a government crises forcing the resignation of the entire cabinet last week.

According to a US spokesman talks between the South Korean trade and commerce minister Kim Jong-hoon and his American counterpart  Susan Schwab were “frank and sincere”; but “In order to find a mutually acceptable solution, both sides need more time to look into technical issues”. the South Korea's trade ministry, meanwhile, said that the two sides had "agreed to cooperate in seeking a mutually satisfactory solution”. Despite this protests continue in South Korea, where even today thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to express their disagreement with any deal.


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