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South Korea's Cabinet offers to resign amid uproar over US beef imports

South Korea's Cabinet offers to resign amid uproar over US beef imports

South Korea's entire Cabinet offered to resign Tuesday following weeks of public uproar over the planned resumption of U.S. beef imports.
Prime Minister Han Seung-soo tendered his resignation along with other government ministers to President Lee Myung-bak, according to the presidential Blue House and the prime minister's office.
Government ministers conveyed their intentions to step down to Han during a weekly Cabinet meeting earlier Tuesday, said Blue House spokesman Lee Dong-kwan. He did not say whether the president would accept the resignations.
Eight senior presidential secretaries already offered to quit last week to take the responsibility for the beef dispute, but Lee has not decided whether to accept their resignations.
South Korea agreed in April to lift almost all quarantine restrictions imposed on U.S. beef over fears of mad cow disease. The decision has sparked weeks of fierce protests amid perceptions the government did not do enough to protect citizens.
Tens of thousands of South Koreans have staged rallies on a nearly daily basis over the past month, demanding their government to scrap or renegotiate its beef import deal with the U.S.
Lee's government said it has asked the U.S. not to export beef from older cattle _ considered at greater risk of mad cow disease, but rejected calls for a complete renegotiation of the accord, citing possible diplomatic and trade disputes with the U.S.
Lee dispatched several delegations of officials to Washington on Monday to help defuse the crisis and seek assurances that the U.S. will not import beef from cattle older than 30 months, even though that is allowed under the agreement.
Younger cattle are believed to be less susceptible to mad cow disease.
The beef issue has confounded the conservative, pro-U.S. Lee, who took office in February after a landslide election victory in December on pledges to boost the economy and bolster ties with Washington.
Both Seoul and Washington say U.S. beef is safe, citing the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health. Protesters say they can't trust what Lee says.
Scientists believe the disease spreads when farmers feed cattle recycled meat and bones from infected animals. The U.S. banned recycled feeds in 1997. In humans, eating meat products contaminated with the illness is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal malady.


Updated : 2021-09-17 10:20 GMT+08:00