YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — For the first time, U.S. and South Korean officials will jointly inspect food and agricultural products imported for use on American military installations on the peninsula, officials said Friday.

Previously, all inspections were done by U.S. Forces Korea officials, but beginning in April, they will be joined by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which governs such imports for commercial use in South Korea.

The change was the result of regular meetings to discuss the status of forces agreement, officials said.

“South Korea and the USFK held a meeting on March 9 and agreed on the South Korean participation in the quarantine inspections. We will be able to carry out joint quarantine measures from mid-April,” the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said in a statement.

The inspections will be done at Yongsan Garrison and at Pusan port and Gimpo airport, where most of the U.S. products are processed after reaching South Korea.

South Korean officials say they have been requesting to inspect USFK imports for nearly 20 years. U.S. military officials balked at the measures largely because of “security concerns.” According to South Korean negotiators, the two sides reached a tentative agreement in 2001, but took until now to iron out the details.

“We need to check all food imports. The quarantine measures are aimed at preventing harmful pests from coming into the country and posing problems for the local ecosystem,” the ministry said.

The South Korean inspectors will be empowered to reject fruits or vegetables they deem to be infected with diseases that could spread to local produce, officials said. They also said future talks would address the possibility of the inspections being broadened to chicken, beef and other meat products.

Currently, U.S. beef is banned from import because of cases of mad cow disease. The ban does not apply to meat bound for commissaries or eateries on U.S. bases.

In the military system, food inspections are usually done by officials from the medical commands and the veterinary services.

Early last year, after thousands of pounds of contaminated U.S. beef were recalled, military officials established a telephone hot line for base residents with questions or concerns about food inspections. That hot line has since been discontinued.

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