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U.S. Stresses to Korea Safety of American Beef

Posted May. 06, 2008 04:50,   


The U.S. government has stressed to Korean correspondents based in the United States the safety of American beef.

In an emergency news conference held Sunday in Washington, Agriculture Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond said American beef is the safest in the world, and that Washington is making every effort for food safety.

The U.S. inspection system to protect food from mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is acknowledged worldwide, he said, urging Korean officials to audit the system as they see fit.

Even if BSE is found, Raymond said, the core essence of the U.S. beef safety guarantee is the removal of specified risk materials, adding the Agriculture Department requires the materials removed from all slaughtered beef.

He declined comment on the prospect of renegotiations on the matter, saying he is not a negotiator.

Back in Seoul, a meeting of high-level officials from the government, the ruling Grand National Party and the presidential office will open Tuesday morning. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and party leader Kang Jae-sup will be among those discussing the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

The meeting will come ahead of a National Assembly hearing on the matter Wednesday, and is expected to help decide the direction of the public opinion. Officials will finalize measures to secure the safety of American beef and promote national awareness. The party and the government will also reaffirm their joint stance against reopening negotiations on American beef imports.

The main opposition United Democratic Party, however, has threatened to introduce a bill on invalidating the deregulation of beef imports Thursday if the government rejects renegotiations.

United Democratic Party co-leader Sohn Hak-kyu told a meeting of the party’s committee on revoking the beef agreement, “If the government expresses no intention to reopen negotiations and come up with supplementary measures at Wednesday’s parliamentary hearing, we’ll set out to enact a special law on quarantine sovereignty.”