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South Korean President Roh Tae-woo appealed to Congress Wednesday for patience in meeting U.S. demands for the opening of markets in his country to more American meat and other farm products.

Roh told a joint meeting of the House and Senate all U.S.-South Korean trade issues eventually will be "resolved to mutual satisfaction.""But only with the passage of time can Korea ultimately adjust and achieve openness in the agricultural market without causing political and social trauma," he said.

Roh told the lawmakers his people want the same things as Americans ask from their legislators: to protect workers and save jobs. And since "nearly 20 percent of all Koreans work on small, traditional family farms ... our efforts to expand agricultural imports have important political and social consequences for nearly one-fifth of our population," he added.

South Korea is already second to Japan as the largest overseas customer for U.S. farm products. As in Japan, the political power of its rural sector has slowed opening of its market to food imports behind that of other products.

Roh's aides said an agricultural trade liberalization program being launched next year would reduce import controls from the current level of 30 percent to 15 percent by 1991.

On another topic, Roh said the vast majority of South Koreans supports the presence of the 43,000 U.S. troops in their country, and anti-American demonstrators represent only a "tiny band of extremists."

Roh, who spoke in English, began by expressing "the deep sympathy of the Korean people" to Americans "who are suffering a national disaster" in the earthquake-stricken San Francisco Bay area of California.