WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican lawmaker urged South Korea on Wednesday to make further trade concessions on beef and auto in high-stakes talks this week with the United States.
Representative Peter Roskam told reporters in a call from Seoul that further movement by South Korea on those two issues would "help enormously" in winning congressional approval of the trade deal next year.
Roskam, after meetings with South Korea's foreign minister and a top Korean legislator, said he was optimistic the two sides could work out a deal while U.S. President Barack Obama is in Seoul for the Group of 20 summit Thursday and Friday.
But the South Koreans appear to be waiting until the last moment to make an agreement, he said.
"Just because things aren't nailed down as we speak doesn't mean that they can't be nailed down in a very, very short period of time," Roskam said.
"This last-minute style is very much the style that Koreans have demonstrated in the past."
Roskam's Republican Party won control of the U.S. House of Representatives in congressional elections last week.
While Republicans generally are more supportive of trade agreements than Democrats, "there's still substantive issues that have to be dealt with" to get the Korean agreement approved, Roskam said.
The two countries signed the free-trade pact in June 2007, but it has languished in the face of strong opposition from the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak set a deadline earlier this year of resolving remaining concerns by the G20 summit.
Roskam said South Korea already had made significant progress in reopening its market to U.S. beef exports but urged it to remove remaining barriers. The Illinois Republican also called on Seoul to reform tax and regulatory barriers that have blocked U.S. auto imports.
He conceded there was a risk of demanding too much of South Korea and ending up with no deal at all.
But "I believe these are two legitimate issues that have been brought before the South Koreans and there's an opportunity to get it together," Roskam said.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Bill Trott)