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Seattle police to ask FTA protesters for calm

Korea Times

Seattle Police to Ask FTA Protesters for Calm

By Christopher Carpenter, Staff Reporter

4 September 2006

The chief of Seattle’s police department will meet South Korean media on Tuesday to ask protesters planning demonstrations over free trade talks this week to refrain from violence, Yonhap News Agency reported Monday.

South Korea and U.S. trade officials are scheduled to hold a third round of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in the U.S. west coast city from Wednesday to Saturday, after the second round ended without significant progress in July in Seoul.

``The interview was proposed by the Seattle police department ... and they are worried about the planned FTA demonstrations,’’ said Han Dong-man, South Korea’s senior coordinator for trade policy planning and public relations.

More than 100 South Korean anti-free trade activists, consisting of farmers and union workers, were due to arrive in Seattle on Sunday or Monday to protest the talks, Yonhap reported.

In a telephone interview with Yonhap, Park Seok-woon, chief of the Korean Alliance Against the Korea-U.S. FTA, said, ``While the number of protesters will be doubled compared to the first round of talks in Washington, we will hold rallies in a lawful way.’’

During the third round, they plan to hold a series of demonstrations, candlelight vigils and press conferences to gain support against the proposed free trade accord, said Park.

During the second round of talks, thousands of demonstrators clashed with riot police but no serious injuries occurred.

Anti-globalization protesters disrupted Seattle, home to American companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Boeing, in 1999 when the city hosted the World Trade Organization meeting.

In November 2005, South Korean riot police mobilized water cannons and batons against thousands of protesters armed with iron bars during a rally against the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the nation’s southern port city of Busan. The demonstration left some 100 people injured, Yonhap reported.