S Korean lawmaker brawl over US free trade deal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Opposition to a free trade agreement with the U.S. has sparked brawls in South Korea's parliamentary offices.

Security staff and aides stood guard outside a meeting room where members of the ruling party were putting the deal before a trade committee, starting the legislative process for passing the accord. Scuffles broke out as dozens of opposition members and their aides tried to force their way in.

Opposition members later brought a sledgehammer and other construction tools to tear open the meeting room doors. Once open, though, they found a barricade of furniture set up as a second line of defense.

The opposition attempt failed, and 10 ruling party legislators introduced the bill to the committee.

The accord calls for slashing tariffs and other trade barriers. Opponents say it will cause pain for South Korean agriculture and the U.S. auto industry.

South Korea and the U.S. signed the deal in April. Congress has not ratified it yet either.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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