SEOUL – The South Korean government said Monday that it was delaying the resumption of U.S. beef imports after the request of the ruling party and massive street protests.

The Associated Press reported that agriculture ministry spokesman Kim Hyun-soo told the news service that the ministry had decided to put off the final administrative step for imports to begin. The imports were to resume after new regulations were published on Tuesday.

President Lee Myung-bak's Grand National Party requested Monday that the ministry hold off, party spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun told the AP.

The delay comes almost 60,000 South Koreans took to the streets over the weekend to protest the government's decision to implement an April beef import agreement with the United States, the news service reported.

U.S beef has been banned by South Korea for most of the past four and a half years over fears of mad cow disease, according to the AP.