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S. Korean beef protests force government shake-up

  • Story Highlights
  • Report: President plans to replace PM and ministers involved in beef deal
  • In April, S. Korea agreed to resume U.S. beef imports five years after halting them
  • Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets over deal with Washington
  • Public support for president has plummeted, S. Korean news agency said
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak plans to shake up his cabinet this week after massive protests, triggered by a deal his government reached to resume U.S. beef imports, the state news agency reported Monday.

The president plans to replace the prime minister and several ministers involved in the controversial beef deal, including those who deal with agriculture, health, foreign and economic policies, according to a report by Yonhap, the South Korean news agency.

The president will also name a secretary in charge of public information, the report said.

In April, South Korea agreed to resume importing U.S. beef five years after halting them amid concerns about a case of mad cow disease in the United States.

Hundreds of thousands protested, resulting in an offer from the president's cabinet to resign last week.

South Korea's trade minister held two days of discussions about the deal with U.S. officials and was poised to return home after announcing a halt in negotiations without any breakthrough. He decided to remain in the United States to continue talks, Yonhap reported Monday.

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South Korea wants the United States to limit imports to beef from cattle younger than 30 months old. Older cattle are thought to be more susceptible to mad cow disease.

Public support for Lee has plummeted in South Korea, the news agency said.

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