After Kim Jong-il’s meeting with former President Bill Clinton, there has been another high-profile get-together between North Korea and a senior American.
This time, it was New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson welcoming two North Korean diplomats to his home in Santa Fe. After hosting the pair informally, Richardson said he detected a lessening of tension and good signals from Pyongyang. “There is a little thaw….that has come in a number of ways, condolence messages, meeting with the Hyundai Chair, South Korea cancelling their launch,” said Richardson. “So, let’s take advantage of this thaw. The next step should be some kind of dialogue that involves the United States and North Korea.” Former President Clinton travelled to North Korea this month, meeting its reclusive leader and securing the release of two US journalists jailed there. Washington wants Kim Jong-il’s regime to return to six party talks on its nuclear programme but Pyongyang insists instead on direct talks with the Americans. And, according to Governor Richardson, North Korea feels that after pardoning the reporters, it is now owed a gesture by the United States.