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SEOUL, South Korea – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is heading to North Korea for negotiations to secure the freedom of two detained American journalists, a news report said Tuesday, nearly five months after they were seized on the China border.
Clinton is on his way to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, where he will try to win the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unidentified high-level source.
However, the decision to send Clinton, whose wife is now secretary of state, was kept quiet. A senior U.S. official later confirmed to reporters traveling to Africa with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the former president was in North Korea.
"While the mission is in progress, we will have no comment," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. "Our interest is the successful completion of the mission and the safe return of the journalists."
North Korea welcomed former President Bill Clinton to Pyongyang with flowers and hearty handshakes Tuesday as he arrived in the communist nation on a surprise mission to bring home two jailed American journalists.
Clinton landed in the North Korean capital in an unmarked jet. On arrival he shook hands with Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Kwan and the deputy speaker of parliament. Footage from television news agency APTN showed Clinton bowing and smiling as a young girl presented him with flowers.
The unusually warm exchange between officials from communist North Korea and the ex-leader of a wartime foe comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over the regime's nuclear program.
SEOUL, South Korea – Former President Bill Clinton met Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on the first day of a surprise mission to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of two Americans, holding "exhaustive" talks on a wide range of topics, state-run media said.
"While the mission is in progress, we will have no comment," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. "Our interest is the successful completion of the mission and the safe return of the journalists"
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean media say leader Kim Jong Il has pardoned two American journalists and ordered their release during the visit of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
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