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S. Korea's president apologizes

  • Story Highlights
  • Report: Address took place on national television at 2 p.m.
  • Lee's first apology came on May 22 amid a wave of protests
  • Initial deal allowed for the import of almost all beef
  • No breakthrough yet in discussions with Washington
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak delivered his second apology in a month Thursday over his handling of plans to resume U.S. beef imports.

His administration has been embroiled in controversy since reaching an agreement with Washington in April to allow American beef back into the country after a five-year ban imposed amid concerns of mad cow disease.

"I and my government should have looked at what the people want regarding food safety more carefully," Lee said in a nationally televised address, the Yonhap news agency reported. "But we failed to do so and now seriously reflect on the failure."

Lee promised to secure a guarantee from the United States not to export beef from cattle older than 30 months. Older cattle are thought to be more susceptible to mad cow disease.

In the initial deal, the import of almost all beef, except for a few parts considered at high risk for mad cow disease, was allowed.

There has been no breakthrough in discussions with Washington, although the two sides continue to talk.

Lee's first apology came May 22 after a wave of protests followed the announcement that American beef imports would resume.

"I admit that the government has been lacking in efforts to sound out public opinion and try to seek people's understanding," he said at the time. "I very much regret all this.

"The government will promise to be more humble in approaching the needs of the people," Lee said.

His support has plummeted in the wake of the protests. Many of Lee's top aides have offered to resign, and he is shuffling his cabinet.

All About South Korea

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