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Quayle reassures Seoul of U.S. backing

By JAMES KIM

SEOUL, South Korea -- U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, on the first leg of a four-nation Asian tour, assured President Roh Tae-woo Wednesday that the United States is firmly committed to South Korea's security.

Quayle arrived in Seoul Tuesday for a three-day visit and spoke with Roh over a luncheon table at the Blue House, the president's official residence, presidential spokesman Lee Soo-jung said.

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'Mr. Quayle told the president that President Bush specifically asked him to relay a message reaffirming a firm U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea,' Lee said.

'President Bush wanted the vice president to assure President Roh and our people that U.S. forces will remain in the country and play war-deterrent roles as long as the South Korean people want.'

Quayle also told Roh the U.S. government agrees that major American military facilities -- including the headquarters of U.S. forces -- should be moved out of Seoul, where 10 million people reside.

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Roh voiced satisfaction with what he called Bush's firm commitment to South Korean security, and said he appreciated Washington's role in insuring stability in Korea and helping South Korean development.

Shortly before Quayle's arrival, small groups of radical youths burned U.S. flags and effigies symbolizing Quayle and U.S. Ambassador Donal Gregg. Dissidents feel Gregg helped South Korea's military dictatorship in the mid-1970s when he headed the CIA's South Korean operations.

In Manila Tuesday, 150 leftist students rioted outside the U.S. embassy to protest Quayle's visit to the Philippines next week, news reports said. At least five policemen were hurt.

Quayle started the day with a breakfast meeting with a group of Korean 'opinion leaders,' including a newspaper publisher, an editorial writer, a university president, a college professor, two Christian leaders and a former ambassador to the United States.

He also met Foreign Minister Choi Ho-joong and Defense Minister Lee Sang-hoon, who paid courtesy calls at Seoul Hilton Hotel where Quayle was staying.

In the afternoon, Quayle visited the National Assembly, Korea's one-house parliament, and met Speaker Kim Jai-son and leading lawmakers.

Opposition party leaders Kim Dae-jung, KimYoung-sam and Kim Jong-pil told Quayle that 43,000 American troops should not be withdrawn or reduced as long as North Korea persists in its militant posture, the assembly speakers spokesman said.

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The lawmakers asked Quayle that the United States be more patient on trade issues with Korea.

Quayle responded by saying it is in South Korea's interest to insure that market opening and economic internationalization keep pace with the nation's democratic progress and economic development.

Quayle later laid a wreath at the Dongjakdong National Cemetery and addressed members of the Korean Newspaper Editors Association.

On Thursday, he was scheduled to take a helicopter trip to the Demilitarized Zone, where American and South Korean forces have faced North Korean troops for 36 years since 1953, the end of the three-year Korean War.

He departs Seoul Thursday afternoon for Tokyo to head the American delegation to the International Democratic Union Conference, a gathering of conservative party leaders from Western democracies.

Following a five-day stay in Japan, Quayle proceeds to the Philippines to meet President Corazon Aquino, then on to Malaysia for a one-day visit.

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