South Korea lifts ban on US beef
After much dithering South Korean government has finally allowed import on US Beef. The beef row has posed a political crisis for the incumbent government.
South Korea has formally lifted an import ban on US beef, allowing meat from young cattle to be shipped into the country.
South Korea suspended US beef imports in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease, or BSE, was identified there.
The decision in April to end the suspension sparked street protests and left the new government in crisis.
About 5,300 tons of US beef, held in cold storage since October, will now be inspected and put on sale.
The checking of the meat could begin later on Thursday, said Yoon Young-koo, a spokesman for the agriculture ministry.
US beef has been banned since 2003, with the exception of a short period last year when limited imports were permitted.
A agreement on ending the ban was reached in April, and it was due to be lifted in May, but this was twice postponed, as protests continued despite reassurances that the meat was safe.
Last week, after further lengthy negotiations, Washington agreed not to export beef from cattle older than 30 months - which is thought to be at higher risk of BSE.
But even as the ban was about to be lifted, there was a protest march to the presidential palace and police used water cannons on demonstrators.