S. Korea urged to follow U.S. safety rules on U.S. beef imports

SOUTH KOREA - The United States asked South Korea Tuesday to ease its safety regulations and allow full U.S. beef imports, as the two countries prepared to hold "technical" talks on resolving the beef row.
calendar icon 30 January 2007
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South Korea, once the world's third-largest buyer of U.S. beef, agreed to resume U.S. beef imports last year, ending a three-year ban prompted by the outbreak of mad cow disease in the U.S.

However, South Korea has rejected all three shipments of U.S. beef totaling 22.3 tons since the ban was lifted after discovering bone fragments in them in violation of the agreement under which it resumed imports.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy took up the issue in its regular Internet dialogue with South Korean audience.

"The U.S. will seek to apply American safety standards on U.S. beef to be sold in South Korea," Andrew Quinn, a minister-counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, said in a Korean-language live Internet forum, called "Cafe USA." Quinn decline to elaborate, saying only that any discussions about the difference of safety regulations between the two nations "aren't productive." The U.S. official said that both sides haven't set a date for the beef talks but South Korea's Deputy Agriculture Minister Min Dong-seok told reporters that the meeting is expected in Seoul in early February.

A 2006 Seoul-Washington agreement requires American meat producers to ship only "de-boned" beef but the three shipments that had been turned back by South Korea last fall contained small bone fragments.

According to scientists, mad cow disease can be transmitted to humans through intestinal parts or bone marrow of cattle infected with the disease.

Source: Yonhap News
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