Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton in North Korea

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a surprise trip to North Korea on Tuesday amid an international standoff over the country's nuclear program and concerns about two U.S. reporters imprisoned in Pyongyang since March.

Clinton landed in Pyongyang on Tuesday and was greeted at the airport by North Korean officials, including chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan.

Ling and Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's California-based Current TV media venture, were arrested in March while on a reporting trip to the Chinese-North Korean border. They were sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and engaging in "hostile acts." Analysts have said the communist regime is expected to use the detained reporters as a negotiating card to win concessions from Washington.

Clinton would be the second former U.S. president to visit North Korea; Jimmy Carter visited Pyongyang in 1994, when Clinton was in office, and met with then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, late father of current leader Kim Jong Il.

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