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Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 13:04 UK

S Korea beef protesters detained

Riot policemen blast water at protesters near the presidential palace in Seoul on 1 June, 2008
Dozens of people were injured as water cannon were fired on protesters

South Korean police have clashed with demonstrators in the capital Seoul during protests over government plans to resume US beef imports.

They fired water cannon and arrested more than 200 of the protesters, who say the move does not protect consumers against mad cow disease.

At least 20,000 people gathered in Seoul for the latest in a month-long series of rallies on the issue.

Polls say the popularity of President Lee Myung-Bak has plummeted.

The worst clashes occurred when some protesters tried to march toward the presidential residence, the Blue House.

Police deployed water cannon in three areas to try to disperse the crowds. Dozens of people were hurt.

Washington deal

Seoul's beef market was closed to US imports in 2003 after the first US case of the disease was found in a Canadian-born cow in Washington state.

Under a deal reached with Washington in April, Seoul agreed to accept all cuts of US beef from cattle of all ages.

Other US trading partners such as Japan still will not do so because of concerns over mad cow disease and its deadly human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The deal was announced during a visit to the US by President Lee, and was described by his critics as a move to please Washington.

Reports say the reaction to the deal has taken him by surprise.

Mr Lee took office in February on a wave of popularity, vowing to improve the economy.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Seoul beef protest
01 Jun 08 |  In Pictures
South Korea relaxes US beef ban
18 Apr 08 |  Business


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