updated 7/2/2008 8:44:32 AM ET 2008-07-02T12:44:32

Before attending the Summer Olympics in Beijing next month, President Bush will visit South Korea, the site of violent protests over the import of U.S. beef.

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The White House made the announcement on Tuesday, the same day that American beef returned to South Korean store shelves under a new import agreement.

Bush had been expected to go to Seoul next week when he visits Japan for the G-8 summit. In Japan, Bush will have bilateral talks with both South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

That Seoul trip never materialized. The president now is scheduled to go to South Korea on Aug. 5 and 6, during a trip that also will take him to the Olympics in China.

South Korea was the third-largest overseas market for U.S. beef until it banned imports after a case of mad cow disease was detected in 2003, the first of three confirmed cases in the United States. Lee, South Korea's new pro-U.S. president, agreed to lift the import ban in April.

But the move provoked a backlash over health concerns, spurred in part by false media reports about risks, along with a sense that South Korea had bowed too easily to American pressure. Seoul negotiated an amendment to the import deal last month to limit shipments to beef from cattle younger than 30 months, believed less susceptible to mad cow disease.

The recent beef agreement, however, has not stopped anti-government protests in South Korea, which have raged for weeks and turned central Seoul into a riot zone. The government said it would take tough action to stop the increasingly violent rallies that have attracted tens of thousands of protesters.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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