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STANFORD --A strong U.S. presence is still necessary in the Far East despite an apparent end to the Cold War and improving relations between the countries in the region, South Korean President Roh Tae Woo said at the Hoover Institution Saturday, June 29.
Roh made the Stanford campus his first stop on a state visit that will include meetings with U.S. President George Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Roh and his wife, Kim Ock Sook, were greeted at the foot of Hoover Tower by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, a Hoover fellow and Stanford faculty member, and John Raisian, director of the Hoover Institution. They lunched with 130 scholars, local community leaders and members of the business community before Roh made his address.
Approximately 40 demonstrators of Korean descent gathered in front of Encina Hall, just outside Secret Service barricades. Some said they had driven from Southern California to protest Roh's U.S. visit. They beat drums, chanted slogans and displayed signs and banners opposing Roh and the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea.
A flier distributed by Young Koreans United of San Francisco said the group feared Roh would make too many military, trade and economic concessions to the United States in his July 2 summit meeting with Bush. Many of the demonstrators wore headbands saying, in English, "Korea is one."
Inside, Roh blamed recent student protests in his country on "opportunistic radicals" exploited by the North Korean communist regime.
"Because these anti-democratic elements have hidden themselves behind 'democratic' slogans, the tasks of maintaining law and order have been extremely difficult and complicated," he said.
City and provincial elections held 10 days before his trip, he said, demonstrated that "the majority of the Korean people are satisfied with the current progress of democratization and desire stability in the transition to genuine democracy."
Candidates from Roh's ruling party won 80 percent of the seats in Seoul, the traditional hotbed of the opposition, he said.
The student demonstrators have lost much public support, he said, since his July 29, 1987, "declaration of democratic reforms" and also as protestors turned to more violence.
Most of Roh's talk concentrated on South Korea's role in building stronger regional political and economic ties.
Describing his country as a "middle power," Roh said Korea had become, in a single generation, a "showcase demonstrating the superiority of a free market economy over a central command economy."
He said his efforts to improve South Korea's formal relations with its Communist neighbors to the north are now contributing to "improved inter-Korean relations and to a general reduction of tension in Northeast Asia."
Those efforts produced normalized diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union after a meeting between Roh and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in San Francisco last June, he said, and an exchange of permanent trade offices with China.
"The recent reversal in North Korea's policy and its decision to enter the United Nations reflects the emerging new international order in which South Korea's 'northern policy' has played a role," he told his Hoover audience.
"We expect that the entry of South and North Korea into the U.N. in September will contribute significantly to ending the impasse on the Korean Peninsula."
At the same time, Roh said, "all the countries in the area seem to recognize the need for the United Sates to continue its leading role if regional stability is to prevail."
"History demonstrates that whenever the role of the United States was reduced in this region, the resulting vacuum was quickly filled by the forces of instability with disastrous consequences. . . .
"Tension on the Korean Peninsula has been the central problem hampering the stability of this entire region."
American military support, including 40,000 American servicemen and women now stationed on the Korean Peninsula, has been "the source of strength for Korea's remarkable progress," he said. "Furthermore, the open American market has been the seedbed of Korean economic growth."
Yet Korea and its neighbors cannot rely solely on U.S. markets to fuel future economic growth, he said.
"Every country in the region should open its market commensurate with its economic ability and stage of development. We must all actively coordinate our efforts to resolve trade frictions smoothly in the interest of promoting free trade and common prosperity."
China and the Soviet Union have expressed their desire to join the 12-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which encompasses the major market economies of North America, East Asia and Oceania. The member countries produce more than half of the total global economic output, and the new organization is growing into a "pivotal new force in economic development," he said.
"If we succeed in combining our efforts to these ends, we shall have practically resolved the global North-South problem in the Asia-Pacific area." He defined the probelm as conflict between the "haves" and the "have-nots."
Roh said. "I believe that, in this way, we can provide a shining example for all the world."
With 65 percent of their trade with one another, the Asia-Pacific nations, are more economically dependent on each other than the European Economic Community, he said.
Following the speech, Shultz asked Roh, "How real is the danger that North Korea might acquire nuclear weapons?"
Roh said that he was pleased that North Korea had indicated it was willing to submit to international inspection of its nuclear facilities. He credited the United States, the Soviet Union and China with helping to minimize the threat by putting conditions on treaties to discourage development of nuclear weapons.
Roh concluded his speech with a reference to Stanford's motto, Die Luft der Freiheit Weht or "The winds of freedom blow."
"Many young people from my country have come to this prestigious Stanford campus in search for truth, knowledge, ideas and dreams amongst professors and other students from across America and the world. In fact, both my children have been privileged to study here.
"Sharing and cherishing common dreams and ideals, together we shall march onward --from the world we have to the world we yearn."
Roh said his son is among 179 Republic of Korea students at Stanford this academic year. A daughter who heads a business consulting firm in Seoul is a Stanford graduate.
Following his speech, the Korean president and first lady toured a special exhibit of Hoover Archives documents. It included a rare set of records of the Japanese legation in Korea from 1895 to 1910, signed letters and photographs of President Syngman Rhee, first president of the Republic of Korea, handwritten diaries of Admiral C. Turner Joy, the senior United Nations delegate to the Korean Armistice Conference in 1951 and 1952, and correspondence, photographs and awards related to Roh from Shultz's more recent historical collection.
The Rohs attended a private dinner at Shultz's campus home that evening.
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