The former US President Bill Clinton has flown to North Korea for mercy talks which may have wider implications. He’s hoping to win the release of two American journalists jailed by Pyongyang for entering the country illegally. Euna Lee and Laura Ling were given 12 years hard labour for what were called grave crimes. But Clinton’s visit may spark renewed negotiations on the North’s nuclear weapons ambitions, after months of sabre-rattling by the reclusive state.
“This is a potentially important trip, not only is it likely to resolve the case of the two American journalists detained in North Korea for many months,” said Korean analyst Mike Chinoy. “But the issue really is on what terms and whether the North Koreans are prepared to be flexible in discussing rolling back their nuclear programme.” As President in the 1990s, Clinton sought to improve ties with North Korea, exchanging envoys amid speculation that Washington and Pyongyang would end decades of hostility. But that improvement was short-lived as Clinton’s successor George W Bush declared North Korea part of an global ‘axis of evil’ with Iraq and Iran.