Washington had warned the US would not back a huge free trade deal with South Korea unless beef imports resumed. ‘The government will thoroughly manage quarantine inspections and marketing of US beef to ensure public health and the safety of our dinner table’, said South Korean agriculture minister Chung Woon-chun.
New South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has faced widespread opposition to the lifting of the ban and has been accused of caving in to US demands. Vigils and sometimes violent rallies have taken place on an almost daily basis since the agreement was announced last month.
Last week Lee issued a public apology, saying he had failed to appreciate the depth of public fear. There are currently about 5,300 tonnes of boneless US beef waiting in South Korea to clear quarantine inspection.
Last week, officials in Seoul met US negotiators to clarify their right to suspend imports again if another outbreak of mad cow disease occurs. South Korea used to be a major market for US beef, but banned most imports in 2003 after an outbreak of mad cow disease there.
Source: www.bbc.co.uk/news