SEOUL – The South Korean government said Monday that talks with the United States over a recent beef deal ended with no immediate breakthrough.

The Asian nation’s government has asked that U.S. beef exporters not send beef from cattle older than 30 months in an effort to resolve a political crisis in South Korea.

Since a deal in April that would allow all beef imports into South Korea, the public has taken to the streets in massive protests and South Korea President Lee Myung-bak’s approval rating has plummeted. He had been elected in a landslide before the crisis.

The Foreign Ministry reportedly said that Seoul and Washington need more time to work out effective measures under which South Korea imports beef from cattle younger than 30 months, adding that two sides will continue talks through diplomatic channels.

After the talks, Lee said that the government would not allow beef from older cattle into the country.

Lee said he has received a positive reply from the U.S. on measures under which the American beef exporters would voluntarily not ship meat from cattle older than 30 months. Lee called the voluntary restraint the most rational measure to resolve the beef dispute.

The South Korean public has opposed the deal because of fears of mad cow disease. Cattle older than 30 months are believed to be at higher risk for the disease.


Source: Associated Press