SEOUL – South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will apologize to the country on Thursday over the handling of an agreement that would allow full resumption of U.S. beef imports.

It would reportedly be his second apology in the past month over a crisis that has brought thousands of people out to protest.

Reports have said that Lee plans to replace his chief of staff and other top aides. He will decide on accepting his cabinet’s resignation at a later date, administration spokesman Lee Dong-kwan told the media.

South Korean and American negotiators were scheduled to meet Wednesday on placing restrictions on importing beef from cattle older than 30 months. The South Korean public has been protesting the deal since April on fears over mad cow disease. Older cattle are believed to be more susceptible to the disease.

South Korea banned most U.S. beef in 2003 after the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States. The beef deal was reached in April and was needed to get approval for a free trade agreement between the two countries.


Source: Associated Press