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U.S. Urges Resumption of Korean Talks

May 7, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Reagan administration on Wednesday blamed both the South Korean government and its opposition for the collapse of their talks on changing the system for choosing President Chun Doo-hwan’s successor.

It challenged the two camps to ensure a fair presidential election next year by democratizing the existing system and expanding freedoms without awaiting revision of the Korean constitution.

Gaston Sigur, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the administration was surprised by President Chun’s April 13 announcement cutting off discussion of constitutional changes until after the Seoul Olympic Games in late 1988.

In their talks, ″both sides ... refused to budge,″ and as a result, ″the available options have been narrowed,″ Sigur said at a congressional hearing. He said the United States intends to continue pressing for political compromise to strengthen democracy in the increasingly prosperous South Asian country.

Sigur stopped short of meeting some demands in Congress for the administration to press Chun to resume the constitutional dialogue.

″Koreans, not outsiders, must develop their own political institutions. We can only offer friendly advice,″ he said. But he added that that the United States sees ″a popularly-based political system″ as essential to stability.

In the deadlocked constitutional revision talks, the opposition demanded direct popular election of the next president. The government party favored a parliamentary system with a prime minister as chief of government.

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