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S.Korea says differences over free trade with US
The first draft statements of a free trade agreement exchanged by South Korea and the United States show "considerable differences" between the two sides, an agriculture ministry official said.
Negotiators from South Korea and the United States are scheduled to meet on June 5 in Washington for the first round of free trade talks.

The two sides will face sensitive issues such as South Korea's barriers to its service sector and rice market, as well as U.S. textile tariffs and anti-dumping policies.

"Seoul and Washington exchanged the first draft statements last weekend. They showed considerable differences," Lee Myung-soo, vice minister at the agriculture ministry, told a news briefing.

He did not elaborate but said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will release details of the drafts early next month.

Lee affirmed South Korea's stance on rice imports, however.

"We will stick to our principle of not giving up the rice market in the free trade talks with the U.S.," he said.

Analysts have said agriculture will be one of the toughest issues to negotiate in a trade deal, especially because of intense opposition from South Korean farmers.

A South Korean group consisting of members of various labor and farmers' organizations is planning to stage rallies in Washington from June 4 to 10.

South Korean farmers and activists have staged many violent protests against measures to open up the local farm market, most notably at the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong in December.
MGR Archive 25.5.2006
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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