Saying he "can look America in the eye," South African President F.W. de Klerk vowed that the racial reforms now under way in his country will eliminate the rationale for U.S. economic sanctions.

The sanctions were imposed over President Reagan's veto in 1986 to punish South Africa for its apartheid system of racial separation, and the question of whether to drop them has emerged as a theme of de Klerk's visit, the first to America by a South African president in a half-century.President Bush said after meeting with de Klerk Monday that racial reforms in South Africa were "irreversible" but that several conditions still had to be met before the sanctions could be ended.

After a series of meetings between de Klerk and members of Congress Tuesday, assistant House Democratic leader William Gray of Pennsylvania, the only black member of the congressional leadership, said his talks left him "hopeful," but he faulted the South African leader for making only "small changes."