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WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. President George W. Bush pressed Japan and South Korea on Wednesday to lift all the mad cow disease-related restrictions and fully reopen their markets to U.S. beef.

During a meeting with members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, he also made it plain that he will broach the issue when he meets Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington in late April.

The president said more than 100 countries have either fully or partially reopened their markets to American beef after the United States weathered a crisis sparked by the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003.

But Bush sees it as less-than-sufficient. Noting “American beef is safe and it is good to eat,” he singled out Japan and South Korea as among countries that need work to fully reopen their markets to U.S. beef.

“The objective of this administration . . . is to make sure that they’re better than partially opened, that they’re fully opened, including . . . countries like Japan and (South) Korea,” he said at the NCBA Spring Conference.

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