On the eve of President Carter's visit to South Korea later this week, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) appealed yesterday for the chief executive to "disassociate the United States from the repressive policies" of the Seoul government.
Kennedy's lengthy Senate statement, repeating in public the substance of views and recommendations he sent privately to the White House late last week, is likely to increase the pressure on Carter to give high visibility attention to human rights problems during his forthcoming visit.
How far Carter should go to distance himself from the internal policies of South Korea President Park Chung Hee is a ticklish diplomatic question, hotly debated within the administration in recent weeks and still unresolved when the White House entourage departed for Asia last weekend.
Carter is to fly to Korea late Friday after conclusion of the seven-nation economic summit meeting in Tokyo. He is scheduled to have official meetings with Park and be guest at a state dinner on Saturday.
On Sunday Carter is scheduled to meet Korean Christian leaders, attend church services and meet a cross-section of National Assembly members, including the political opposition. Protestant and Catholic clergy as well as the political opposition have been at odds with Park since the president seized unlimited power under martial law in 1972.
Still unclear is whether Carter will meet Kim Dae Jung, in many respects the most prominent opposition leader and the focus of international attention. Kim nearly defeated Park in a hotly contested presidential race in 1971. Kim was out of the country when martial law was proclaimed but later was kidnaped from Japan by Korean secret police, brought back to Seoul and later imprisoned on political charges. Kim was released from prison last December and placed under a form of house arrest.
Kennedy chrged yesterday that South Korea "is a veritable police state." He added that "the United States, committed to the defense of South Korea's security, stand in constant danger of also supporting the repression of its people."
The senator conceded that political and civil rights are "much more severely controlled" in North Korea than in the South, but said the United States bears special responsibility in South Korea because of its material and moral support for that regime.
Specifically, Kennedy called on Carter, during his Seoul visit, to:
Urge Park to take "substantial and irreversible steps" to guarantee basic rights and restore democracy.
State publicly and privately that the U.S.-Korean alliance "must be founded in shared ideals and values."
Meet with Koreans who are "being persecuted" by the Park government, including Kim and religious and political opposition leaders.
Ask Park to release all remaining political prisoners, including the wellknown poet Kim Chi Ha and more than 300 others on a list Kennedy made public.
Ask Park to repeal "emergency decree nine" which bans criticism of the present political system and has been the basis for periodic crackdowns.
Carter strongly condemned human rights violation in South Korea during his campaign for the presidency, but has had less to say on the subject while in office. Carter's controversial program to withdraw U.S. ground troops from South Korea has complicated his relations with the Seoul government, as well as other aspects of his policy regarding the Korean peninsula.