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President Apologises Over US Beef Deal

19 June 2008

SOUTH KOREA - The South Korean president has once again apologised for his decision to lift a ban on US beef imports, after they sparked weeks of mass protests over fears of mad cow disease. "I should have paid attention to what people want," he told an audience at a news conference.

The protesters in Seoul have recently begun to also call for the resignation of the conservative president, who has led the country since late February.

Lee assured South Koreans that the government would not allow US beef from cattle more than 30 months old into the country. Cattle over that age are seemed at higher risk for mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a brain-wasting illness that can be transmitted to people who eat infected meat.

Lee, however, said his government would not accede to demands by the public for a renegotiation of the beef agreement with the United States, arguing it would damage the South Korean economy.

Lee, whose approval ratings have fallen below 20 per cent in many polls, announced that he would reshuffle his cabinet and staff. The cabinet offered to resign last week over the beef crisis.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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