From remarks by John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.) in the Senate Feb. 23:

This is a historic day in SouthKorea -- the inauguration of President Roh Tae Woo.

After a divisive and bitter election campaign last year, Roh Tae Woo emerged as the victor with a plurality of only 36 percent. In a break with tradition, he immediately established national reconciliation as his principal goal. He extended himself to the losing candidates, attempting to draw them into the transition process.

He has signaled repeatedly to the Korean people that he would not be a president removed from the citizenry. Through simple gestures such as carrying his own briefcase, as well more substantive measures such as naming as his prime minister former Seoul National University President Yi Hyon-chae, a nonpolitician of indisputable integrity, Roh Tae Woo has demonstrated his commitment to humanizing and democratizing the presidency. The response to the Korean people during this period of dramatic change has been extremely positive and constructive.

The next step in the political process will be the National Assembly elections. I look forward to a hard-fought campaign and, once again, free and honest elections.

Of great concern to the United States is our bilateral relationship with South Korea. I can say that it has never been stronger or more important. This is a critical time for both countries, and the emergence of a democratic government in Korea can only serve to strengthen our bonds and contribute to stability on the Korean peninsula, which is so vital to us.