Expectations grow as doctors, govt to sit down for talks in South Korea

Seoul, June 24 (IANS): Representatives of doctors and the government in South Korea are expected to sit down for talks as early as this week, as both sides have hinted that they would hold negotiations to seek a breakthrough to end the months-long standoff over the government's medical reforms.

The move came as Lim Hyun-taek, the hawkish head of the Korea Medical Association (KMA), stepped back from the standoff, prompting the KMA to form a committee to cope with potential talks with the government, Yonhap News Agency reported.

After holding its first meeting last Saturday, the committee said it welcomed the government's stance that negotiations with doctors are possible regardless of agenda and formality.

In response, the Health Ministry asked the committee to hold talks without conditions.

In another indication of an olive branch by the KMA, the group said it will not begin an indefinite walkout on Thursday as announced. Instead, the group's committee will hold a meeting on Saturday to decide on how it will proceed with such a walkout.

An official at the KMA, however, said that the group will not stop its fight against the government.

The standoff over medical reforms has appeared to lose steam after medical professors at Seoul National University Hospital and its affiliates decided to end their indefinite walkout, saying they could not put patients at risk anymore.

Since late February, about 12,000 trainee doctors have left their worksites in protest against the medical school quota increase.

Last month, the government finalised an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools, marking the first such increase in 27 years.



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Title: Expectations grow as doctors, govt to sit down for talks in South Korea

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