S. Korea, U.S. to hold 'technical' talks on beef row

SOUTH KOREA - South Korea and the United States will hold "technical" talks in Seoul next week to try to resolve a prolonged row over Seoul's repeated rejection of U.S. beef shipments, a government official said Wednesday.
calendar icon 4 January 2007
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Lifting a three-year import ban prompted by the discovery of a mad cow case in the U.S in 2003, South Korea in September resumed U.S. beef imports on the condition that no bones be contained in the shipment.

South Korea has since turned back three shipments totaling about 22.3 tons after bone fragments were found in the meat. U.S. officials protested that South Korea enforced overly strict quarantine rules to block American beef imports.

"The U.S. side has the right to call technical discussions. There is no reason for South Korea not to accept the request," Vice Agriculture Minister Park Hae-sang told reporters.

Before the 2003 import ban, South Korea was the third largest U.S. beef market with annual purchases totaling US$850 million.

U.S. officials have warned that the beef row could spoil ongoing free trade talks between the two countries.

Source: Yonhap News
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