Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What topics might Bill Clinton and Kim Jong Il cover?

Former President Clinton has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in North Korea, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, citing North Korean state-run media reports.

The North Korean news agency KCNA did not disclose the purpose of the visit in its three-line dispatch. However a source with detailed knowledge of Clinton's movements told CNN late Monday that he was going to seek the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

Last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration had dropped its request for Ling and Lee to be released on humanitarian grounds and instead was seeking amnesty, which implies forgiveness for an offense.

This change in language is an important distinction that could move North Korea to release the women without feeling that its legal system has been slighted, analyst Mike Chinoy said.

"I suspect that it was made pretty clear in advance that Bill Clinton would be able to return with these two women; otherwise it would be a terrible loss of face for him," said Chinoy, an Edgerton senior fellow on Asia at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, California. "The bigger, broader and more important question is what else could be on the agenda?"

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