Bill Clinton’s Lightning Diplomacy Frees 2 Journalists Held in North Korea

This just in from the WTAE Pittsburgh:

North Korea said Tuesday that two detained American journalists have been pardoned. The announcement came after news reports that former President Bill Clinton met Tuesday with the two journalists. ABC News reported that a government source with knowledge of the mission said Clinton’s meeting with journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee was very emotional.

The source was hopeful that Ling and Lee would leave North Korea on Tuesday night for the United States, ABC reported.

Earlier, Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during his surprise mission to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of the two reporters, holding “exhaustive” talks on a wide range of topics, state-run media said.

Clinton “courteously” conveyed a verbal message from President Barack Obama, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a report from Pyongyang. Kim expressed his thanks, and engaged Clinton in a “wide-ranging exchange of views on matters of common concern,” the report said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, however, denied Clinton went with a message from Obama. “That’s not true,” he told reporters.

I don’t know what was said behind closed doors, but this was incredibly fast. The fact that Clinton is not a member of the Obama Administration no doubt gave him greater flexibility in dealing with Kim Jong Il.

I look forward to hearing former President Clinton speak about this trip when he returns to the United States.

I especially look forward to hearing from Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

And I am incredibly impressed.

Bill Clinton Off to North Korea to Seek Release of U.S. Reporters

From the New York Times:

Former President Bill Clinton went to North Korea on Monday to negotiate the release of two American television journalists who were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for illegally entering North Korean territory, a person who was briefed on the mission said.

Mr. Clinton landed in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, early Tuesday morning local time, Central TV, a North Korean station, reported. The White House declined to comment.

The journalists, Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, were detained by soldiers on March 17 near the North Korean border with China. In June, they were sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean prison camp for “committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry.”

Go for it, Bill.  Godspeed.

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