South Koreans plan anti-beef protests during Bush visit

Other News Materials 4 August 2008 17:33 (UTC +04:00)

Citizens groups plan to protest US beef imports to South Korea when President George W Bush visits the country on Tuesday, an organizer of the protests said Monday.

The peaceful protests are intended to show the US delegation South Koreans are unhappy at the reopening of the market to US beef, a spokesman for an alliance for measures against mad cow disease said, reported dpa.

Beef imports resumed in April after a five-year ban imposed following cases of mad cow disease in the United States.

South Koreans fear a connection between the illness, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disorder in humans.

South Koreans have staged a series of demonstrations against the imports, some of which resulted in violent clashes with police and prevented Bush from paying a visit last month during the G8 summit in neighbouring Japan.

Reports said up 16,000 riot police had been drafted in to protect Bush, who is making South Korea the first leg of a week-long Asian tour that will also take him to Thailand and China.

In Seoul, Bush is to meet South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, and thank him for reopening the markets to US beef-on-the bone imports. Lee visited the US in March at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

The two men will also mark the 55th anniversary of US-South Korean ties.

The US president is due to travel to Bangkok on Wednesday for his second visit to Thailand where he plans to meet with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

The US president is to participate in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing on Friday.

During his four-day China stay from Thursday to Monday, Bush plans to meet President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and the Vice President Xi Jinping.