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US widens role in Salvador drama

The United States is suddenly taking a determined hand in trying to resolve the continuing trauma in El Salvador. Its main goal is the early establishment of a viable government in the Central American country.

In quick succession this weekend:

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* The US investigatory team looking into the murders of four US women in El Salvador announced that while it found no direct evidence that the Salvadorean government was responsible, there was "circumstantial evidence of possible security force involvement."

* The State Department said suspended economic and military aid would be resumed only as El Salvador's own investigation of the murders permits participation by outside observers.

* At US insistence, the Salvadorean government accepted the "technical assistance" from agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in the probe.

The US is pressuring for an immediate reorganization of El Salvador's joint civilian-military junta in an effort to deal with the escalating violence that has claimed more than 10,000 people this year alone and to advance needed social and economic reforms.

That governmental restructuring appears to be under way as Jose Napoleon Duarte, the Christian Democratic leader, Gutierrez is to be vice-president and commander in chief of the armed forces.

Both are members of the 14-month-old, civilian-military junta that has ruled El Salvador since Oct. 15, 1979, when Army colonels seized power in an earlier attempt to bring about a viable government and offer an alternative to rightist and leftist extremism.

Mr. Duarte said Dec. 13 he seeks a "revolution that is non-violent, non-Marxist, and not against the United States."

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The last phrase was not lost on Latin American observers who have noted the increasing activism of the US in Salvadorean developments in recent weeks. That increasing involvement began with the arrival last March of Ambassador Robert E. White. He quickly indicated the US saw the junta as the best prospect of achieving order in El Salvador. But the escalating violence this year has caused growing dismay in Washington. Now the murders of the four US women in early December has drawn the US much more fully into the fray.

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