Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Thank you President Clinton for a job well done!
Former President Bill Clinton left North Korea on Wednesday morning after a dramatic 20-hour visit, in which he won the freedom of two American journalists, opened a diplomatic channel to North Korea’s reclusive government and dined with the North’s ailing leader, Kim Jong-il.Mr. Clinton emerged as the preferred choice of the North Koreans, people briefed on the talks said.
North Korea signaled its desire to have Mr. Clinton to act as a special envoy in conversations with Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, who relayed that message to their families in the middle of July, according to a senior administration official. The message was in turn passed to Mr. Gore, who contacted the White House, which then explored whether such a mission would be successful.
Mrs. Clinton was deeply involved in the case, too. She proposed sending various people to Pyongyang — including Mr. Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore — to lobby for the release of the women, before Mr. Clinton emerged as the preferred choice of the North Koreans, people briefed on the talks said
President Obama did not speak directly with Mr. Clinton before the mission. But his national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, contacted the former president to sound him out. The senior official said the administration did “due diligence” with the North Koreans in advance to ensure that if Mr. Clinton went, he would return with the women. He also denied that Mr. Clinton apologized to the North Koreans as a condition of obtaining a pardon from the government.
As president, Mr. Clinton had sent Mr. Kim a letter of condolence on the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, according to a former official. For Mr. Kim, the former official said, freeing the women was a “reciprocal humanitarian gesture.”
See full story at the NYT