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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration let North Korean leader Kim Jong Il save face by releasing two jailed Americans to former President Bill Clinton. The payoff — maybe not right away — is likely to be renewed dialogue with Pyongyang about its nuclear weapons program.
Bill Clinton undertook the mission, a senior administration official said, only after the North assured the White House that the reporters would be freed and allowed to return home with the former president.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to detail the back-channel negotiations, also said the north rejected Gore as a suitable emissary. The journalists' families, Gore and the White House then turned to Clinton. The official said President Barack Obama did not speak with Clinton about the mission
Daniel Sneider, associate director of research at Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, said the journalists' release followed weeks of quiet negotiations between the State Department and the North Korean mission to the United Nations.
Clinton "didn't go to negotiate this, he went to reap the fruits of the negotiation," Sneider said.
the journalists' release followed weeks of quiet negotiations between the State Department and the North Korean mission to the United Nations