Former President Jimmy Carter is leaving North Korea Friday with a U.S. citizen who was imprisoned in the communist country after entering it illegally in January, according to the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a Christian activist, was imprisoned in January of this year and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea.
Carter was greeted by Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's chief negotiator at the six-party nuclear talks, and has also met the country's titular head of state, Kim Jong Nam, according to Seoul's Yonhap News agency, quoting North Korean media.
There have been hopes of some breakthrough in tense Pyongyang-Washington relations with Carter's visit. The two men who represent North and South Korea as their country's respective envoys in the currently stalled six-party talks met in Seoul. These events come amid intense speculation surrounding North Korea's leadership, given that the state will be holding only its third-ever Workers Party Congress in September.