S Korea to fight for fta with US

Seoul, March 3:

South Korea will do its best to prevent opponents from torpedoing talks with the United States on establishin-g a free trade agreement (FT-A), a top official said today.

“We do understand that there will be various issues of tension and a sense of crisis but we also believe that through this FTA we will be able to upgrade the Korean economy to a new level,” sa-id Kim Byong-Joon, the president’s chief advisor on economic and social issues, “As for the sometimes rather unreasonable demands and elements that exist within Korean society, we will do our very best to make sure that the FTA negotiations do not collapse because people are not able to coordinate their interests appropriately.”

Presiden Roh Moo-Hyun, who stands down in 2008, has said that reaching a free trade deal with the United States is the top priority for the remainder of his term. Seoul and Washington are expected to launch the trade talks in May with a goal of wrapping up the pact by March 2007. The government is bracing for protests against the pact.

Railway strike on

SEOUL: South Korea’s railway system was hit by a crippling strike for a third day on Friday Korea as workers reacted angrily to a management decision to suspend the jobs of more than 2,000 union members. Korea Railroad, the state railway monopoly, said it had barred 387 union representatives from carrying out their jobs, a prelude to punishing them for leading the wildcat strike. — AFP