A top South Korean trade official said Wednesday that the country is not considering renegotiating the beef deal with the United States despite a public uproar over the safety of beef from older cattle, the Yonhap news agency reported.
The South Korean government agreed in April to resume US beef imports, which had been halted in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States. But since early last month, thousands of citizens have taken to the streets calling for renegotiation of the deal.
On Tuesday, at least 80,000 people demonstrated in central Seoul, opposing the resumption of US beef imports and calling for President Lee Myung-bak's resignation.
Under the public pressure, the government declared last week that it will indefinitely delay putting the April deal into effect until Washington or US exporters agree to refrain from exporting beef from cows aged 30 months or older.
But Seoul rejected calls for a complete renegotiation of the accord, citing possible diplomatic and trade disputes with the US , the Yonhap said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2008)