Wednesday 5 August 2009

An opening for North Korea talks?

After Former US President Bill Clinton secured the release of two American journalists held in North Korea, increasingly there speculation that trip could signal an opening for North Korea to resume talks

A homecoming for two journalists. Laura Ling and Euna Lee arrive in Los Angeles with former President Bill Clinton, who had secured their release in North Korea.

Ling said the end came when she and her fellow reporter for Current TV were told they needed to go to a meeting.

Journalist Laura Ling, saying:

"We were taken to a location and when we walked in through the doors we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton. We were shocked. But, we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end."

President Barack Obama welcomed the news.

US President Barack Obama, saying:

"I want to thank President Bill Clinton. I had a chance to talk to him, for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists."

The White House offered no details of Clinton's trip, but analysts suggest his visit and discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il could open the way to direct talks on the country's nuclear weapons program.

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, saying:

"My hope is that this might be an opportunity to help push the North back into discussions, both bilateral and multilateral, the six party talks. That we're going to have to see, that to me is the critical issue of trying to resolve the issue of the nuclear weapons and missile tests. 12.01.22

Washington faces a tricky task of trying to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions without seeming to reward it for repeated military action.

John Park of the US Institue of Peace.

John Park of the US Institute of Peace, saying:

"But managing expectations is incredibly important because as much as this is an opening that could potentially led to some kind of restarting of talks, the bar has been set very very high in terms of the conditions under which North Korea comes back and what would be discussed."

Last year North Korea last year quit on-and-off six-party talks with the US, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea and has since suggested it will only talk to Washington.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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