Korean Public Rally Against Mad Cows and Troops

US - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted Saturday that American beef is safe to eat and urged South Koreans to accept their government's decision to lift a ban on the meat.
calendar icon 30 June 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Rice said she hoped the beef controversy won't distract from important issues facing the United States and South Korea, most notably the six-nation talks over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear program.

In South Korea, the long-running nuclear issue has been of less public concern than Seoul's agreement to lift a ban on American beef imports in April as a way to restore strained ties with Washington, reported China Daily.

"It will take time for that risk to be erased from the minds of the Korean public"
Foreign Minister Yu

Activists have been staging daily rallies on the streets of Seoul to voice their concerns about possible health risks such as mad cow disease. As officials began inspecting US beef Friday before it can reach markets, hundreds of labor activists blocked customs storage facilities.

"I can only say that American beef is safe and we hope that in time the South Korean people will listen to that and will be willing to listen to what their government is saying and what we're saying," Rice said earlier en route to Seoul. "The US believes strongly in the safety of its product."

Seoul agreed to resume US beef imports after American producers agreed to limit shipments to meat from cattle younger than 30 months, believed less susceptible to mad cow disease. The restriction has been deemed a transitional step that will be lifted when conditions change in South Korea.

"It will take time for that risk to be erased from the minds of the Korean public," Foreign Minister Yu said.

Rice arrived in Seoul a day after neighboring DPRK destroyed the cooling tower at its main nuclear facility. The demolition followed US moves earlier this week to lift sanctions against the country in response to its submission of a long-delayed declaration of its nuclear programs.

Rice later met with South Korean President Lee. She briefed Lee on recent progress in the nuclear standoff, and Lee told her that their two countries should work closely together to get DPRK to give up all nuclear weapons and programs, the presidential Blue House said.

A loud and angry group of about 15 sign-carrying protesters gathered outside the South Korean Foreign Ministry where Rice was meeting with government officials.

"Stop Rice and Mad Cows," said one placard. "We Don't Need US Troops. We Don't Need Mad Cows," read another.

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