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Pres. Lee Apologizes for Beef Controversy

Posted May. 23, 2008 03:48,   


President Lee Myung-bak apologized yesterday to the nation for the controversy over U.S. beef imports. He said, “I admit the government’s efforts to listen to and understand the public were insufficient and also humbly accept criticisms that my administration did not fully address public concerns about mad cow disease. I deeply apologize to the people.”

In a nationally televised speech on Thursday, President Lee said, “The administration will make every effort to approach the public in a modest way. I am to blame for the insufficient governance of state affairs in the incipient stage of the administration. With this event as a turning point, I will further commit myself to reviving the economy and creating jobs.”

He went on to say, “I am well aware that many people have been worried about the administration’s poor management of state affairs.” He added, “The government was frustrated that groundless rumors about mad cow disease spread throughout society and it was heartbreaking to see young students join candlelight rallies at the Cheonggye Stream, one of my most laborious works, to protest the U.S. beef import deal.”

Emphasizing that public health cannot be traded for anything, Lee said the government stipulated Korea`s sovereign right to halt U.S. beef imports in the event of a health-threatening situation. He added that the nation`s overall food safety standards would be upgraded to the level of advanced countries.

With regard to the ratification of Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, he stressed, “The FTA is the result of striving efforts by the government and the 17th National Assembly in the face of numerous difficulties and also a national task, which had created public consensus.” President Lee reiterated his position, saying that, “Regardless of the ruling and opposition parties, the outgoing National Assembly should ratify the FTA for the benefit of the people’s livelihood and the national interests.”

He said, “Over 70 percent of the Korean economy depends on overseas trading. Given this, the KORUS FTA will serve as a new way to jumpstart our sluggish economy. The government has established a variety of assistant measures in the fields that are likely to face hardship, such as agriculture. Moreover, additional countermeasures could be introduced if necessary.”