Bill Clinton Visits North Korea for Talks

Former US president went to North Korea amid an international stand-off over the country's nuclear programme and concerns about two imprisoned American reporters.

Mr Clinton landed in Pyongyang and was greeted at the airport by North Korean officials, including chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's state news agency said in a brief dispatch.

His visit comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea's string of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of United Nations resolutions and calls from Washington for amnesty for the two reporters, The Press Association reports.

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.”

The Obama administration had been considering for weeks whether to send a special envoy to North Korea.

The choice of Mr. Clinton would mark his first public mission on behalf of the administration. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been deeply involved in the journalists’ case, The New York Times reports.

The television channel for which the women worked was set up by Al Gore, Mr Clinton’s vice-president. Analysts had long suspected that Mr Gore might fly to Pyongyang to give the ailing Mr Kim the sort of diplomatic attention he craves.

North Korea made an overture for direct talks with the US at the end of last month, only days after an extraordinary outburst against the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, Bill’s wife. It lambasted her for stupidity, adding she sometimes looked like a pensioner out shopping and like a schoolgirl at others, The Financial Times reports.

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