Thursday, August 6, 2009
Text Fwd: [Analysis] Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang could be a turning point in N. Korea-U.S. relations
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'Journalist Laura Ling speaks in front of Euna Lee, former Vice President Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton after Ling and Lee arrive at Hangar 25 on August 5, 2009 in Burbank, California after being released by North Korean authorities yesterday. Ling and Lee, of San Francisco based Current TV, were both arrested by North Korea in March for illegally entering the country on the Chinese border. Yesterday Commissioner Kim Jong-Il pardoned them after a meeting with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Ling and Lee had been sentenced to 12 years in prison in June. (AFP)'
[Analysis] Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang could be a turning point in N. Korea-U.S. relations: Although White House says Clinton’s visit was a private mission, a KCTV report suggests it is a sign of possible improvement in relations
Posted on : Aug.6,2009 11:48 KST Modified on : Aug.6,2009 11:50 KST
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton left Pyongyang on Wednesday morning with the two U.S. reporters who had been detained in North Korea and arrived in Los Angeles late at night (Korea time).
The visit to North Korea lasted only two days and one night, but its significance is great. The visit has provided a possible stepping stone for a turning point in the political situation on the Korean Peninsula, which has been growing increasingly tense since North Korea’s long-range rocket launch and second nuclear test.
The Barack Obama administration’s decision to approve Clinton’s visit is a “gift” to North Korea to see if a change in the North Korea-US relationship is possible.
In a report on the visit results released Wednesday morning, North Korea’s Korea Central TV (KCTV) said Clinton had respectfully conveyed a verbal message from President Obama on his views on plans to improve relations between North Korea and the U.S.
There is controversy over whether there was a verbal message from Obama, but it appears that Clinton may have conveyed an outline of the Obama administration’s North Korea policy. One diplomatic expert said he must have explained at least as much as his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, did last month at the ASEAN Regional Forum. At the time, Secretary Clinton said if North Korea gives up nuclear weapons, everything was possible, including economic aid and the construction of a peace regime and normalization in relations with North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s “return courtesy” for former President Clinton’s visit, in addition to the pardon of the two U.S. journalists, has not yet been released. Some believe it is possible that North Korea, which has been claiming it would never abandon nuclear weapons, may have made a gesture of good faith concerning denuclearization. On the matter of “dialogue,” some believe Kim may have indicated some direction for possible follow-up by saying something along the lines that North Korea has only rejected a six party framework that abandons the spirit of mutual coexistence as embodied in the September 19 Joint Statement made in 2005, and not the six-party talks themselves.
In addition, KCTV reported that Kim and Clinton shared a frank and deep discussion concerning pending issues between North Korea and the U.S. and that both agreed to resolve issues through dialogue. Some see this as suggesting Kim is promising not to take additional actions to aggravate the situation in order to contribute to building the necessary atmosphere needed to for North Korea-U.S. talks.
Thanks to Kim and Clinton’s “unofficial dialogue,” moves toward official talks between North Korea and the U.S. are expected to take place. Some analysts suggest changes may be made in the internal power structure of the Obama administration concerning North Korea policy. Kim Yeon-cheol, the head of the Hankyoreh Peace Research Institute said until recently, those in favor of sanctions had been the loudest. He said that while arguments for sanctions would not completely go away, the atmosphere in Washington for a resolution through dialogue might gain strength.
Meanwhile, at a briefing Tuesday afternoon (local time), White House press secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly stressed that the issue of the journalists’ release is seen separate from North Korea policy matters, and Clinton’s visit was a “solely private mission.”
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© 2006 The Hankyoreh Media Company
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