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Page last updated at 19:44 GMT, Saturday, 28 June 2008 20:44 UK

Clashes in Seoul over US beef row

Police use a water cannon against protesters in Seoul on 28 June 2008
At least 13,000 people protested in Seoul, police say

South Korean police have used water cannon to disperse thousands of people in the capital Seoul protesting against the resumption of US beef imports.

The protests took place as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted in Seoul that US beef was safe to eat.

South Korea suspended US beef imports in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease, or BSE, was identified there.

Earlier this week, it formally lifted the ban, allowing shipments of meat from young US cattle.

An 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 US meat was safe.

Anger

At least 13,000 people demonstrated in Seoul on Saturday, police said.

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Police use water cannon on the protesters

The police erected barricades, using buses to prevent the protesters from marching towards the presidential office.

"We don't need US troops, we don't need US mad cows," read some of the slogans.

Public anger in South Korea remains high at what is perceived by many as the government's readiness to cave into Washington and ignore health concerns.

The latest protest came as Ms Rice was visiting Seoul.

"I can only say that American beef is safe and that we hope in time the South Korean people will listen to that, and will be willing to listen to what their government is saying and what we are saying," Ms Rice said.


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