P.M. BRIEFING : Seoul Adamant on Foreign Rice

FROM TIMES WIRE SERVICES

South Korean government will not budge from its refusal to open its market to foreign rice and will keep price controls on rice to protect its farmers, an Agriculture Ministry official said today.

Kim Jong Yong, the ministry's director general for international cooperation, told reporters that Seoul was forced to ask for special concessions to keep its rice market closed.

"If we do not secure these items, like rice or some other very critical items under the name of non-trade concerns, we can say nothing (to defend ourselves) to the farmers," Kim said.

Farmers staged violent protests last week against Seoul's taking part in the Uruguay Round of GATT multilateral trade talks, and last month jeered and threw bottles at the agriculture minister, forcing him to flee a stage where he was giving a speech.

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