BUCHAREST, ROMANIA, JUNE 17 -- More than 1,000 demonstrators blocked traffic tonight in front of Bucharest University, denouncing President-elect Ion Iliescu and the coal miners he called in last week to defend his government against anti-government protests.

"Iliescu and the miners are the cancer and AIDS of our society," some demonstrators shouted as a platoon of army troops outside the nearby Intercontinental Hotel stood by without intervening. About 80 troops equipped with submachine guns and nightsticks stood nearby, and two buses filled with police were parked a short distance away.

The demonstration was the first sign that the 10,000 club-wielding coal miners called in to help put down last week's protests had failed to dampen anti-government sentiments. The miners returned to their hometowns Friday after going on a violent rampage here. Authorities said six people were killed, more than 500 were injured and about 1,000 were arrested in last week's clashes.

Today's demonstration took place at the same downtown square where police early Wednesday ended a 53-day occupation by protesters calling for the resignation of all high-ranking former Communists from Romania's provisional government. The action by police in what the demonstrators had termed a "communist-free zone" touched off the most violent week since the overthrow in December of Nicolae Ceausescu.

Four hours after the start of today's initially small demonstration, state television interrupted its normal program with an announcement from Doru Ursu, the newly appointed interior minister, offering to open talks with the demonstrators. The announcement said he was prepared to discuss their demands, including freeing those arrested last week, if they would stop blocking traffic on Avenue Balcescu, one of Bucharest's main thoroughfares.

In a statement published in today's newspapers, the government pledged to abide by democratic rules. "The government is prepared to assure appropriate measures for freedom of political expression for all, with the exception of acts of instigation and of neo-fascist propaganda," the statement said.

"It also demands that those responsible ensure the total freedom of operation of the democratic institutions of the press, radio and television and . . . instill firmly democratic institutions in our country," it added.

{CBS News reported, however, that a government statement broadcast on Romanian television called on citizens to come to University Square, the site of the demonstration, to help defend the capital.}

The conciliatory statement by Ursu -- who was appointed last week after his predecessor was fired by Iliescu, in part because of the failure of police to maintain order during the demonstrations -- was widely interpreted as reflecting government fears that a new crackdown could lead to further criticism from the international community.

Foreign ministers of the 12 European Community countries are scheduled to meet in Luxembourg Monday to consider a trade and economic cooperation package for Romania. An EC spokesman said last week that the trade accord would be held up as a result of the government's actions against the demonstrators. The United States also said it would withhold all non-humanitarian economic aid to Romania.

Meanwhile, Romanians were seeking to understand last week's events, amid still incomplete reports and many unanswered questions. Much speculation has centered on Iliescu, whom critics have accused of trying to use the violence to strengthen his position.

Iliescu, who is scheduled to be formally inaugurated this week, won 85 percent of the vote in last month's national elections. The National Salvation Front, which is headed by Iliescu and has led Romania's provisional government since Ceausescu's ouster last December, captured more than half the parliamentary seats in what were Romania's first free elections in more than four decades.

But the Salvation Front is not a united party, and its various wings have been jostling for power and influence. Some Romanians suspect that only a behind-the-scenes power struggle can explain Iliescu's move to summon the miners to restore order in the capital.

Many say the government was within its rights to clear away the tent city in University Square set up by anti-communist activists. But some observers were surprised by the inability -- or unwillingness -- of army and police units to deal promptly with angry crowds that later attacked the Interior Ministry and state television station.