Richard L. Sneider, a noted American expert on Asian affairs and U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 1974 to 1978, died Friday of cancer at his home in Vermont, members of his family said. He was 64.
During a State Department career that spanned three decades, Sneider was a key maker of U.S. foreign policy for East Asia. Most notably, he was a leading U.S. negotiator on the post-World War II talks leading to restoration of Okinawa to Japan, a process that removed a major irritant in U.S.-Japanese relations.
As ambassador, he was credited with promoting American interests in South Korea during difficult controversies over proposed U.S. troop withdrawals and human rights issues.
He also had to deal with the diplomatic in-fighting and turbulent relations involved in the congressional influence buying scandal involving former South Korean businessman Tongsun Park in the 1970s.
Sneider joined the State Department in 1948 and served initially as a policy analyst and intelligence expert. He was in Tokyo from 1954 to 1958, was political counselor in Pakistan from 1962 to 1965, a member of the National Security Council staff in 1969, deputy chief of the U.S. mission to Japan from 1970 to 1972, and deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1972 to 1974.