PYONGYANG, North Korea – Ex-President Jimmy Carter and three former European leaders have been feted by North Korea’s foreign minister, but it was unclear today whether they would meet top leader Kim Jong Il to discuss ways to restart long-stalled nuclear talks.
Carter, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland and former Irish President Mary Robinson had talks with Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun at a state guesthouse in Pyongyang ahead of a reception Tuesday night, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a two-sentence report.
The leaders said before the trip that they were in the dark about their itinerary but hoped to meet with Kim and his son and heir apparent Kim Jong Un. The delegation was not expected to speak to the media until it reaches Seoul on Thursday.
The three-day visit comes as diplomats struggle to find a way to resume six-nation nuclear disarmament talks that the North walked away from in 2009. Also likely on the agenda is the dismal relationship between North and South Korea, which has hampered efforts to restart the talks on the North’s nuclear programs.
Before flying to Pyongyang, Carter said he didn’t intend to raise the case of Jun Young Su, a Korean-American being held in North Korea, reportedly on charges of carrying out missionary activity.
South Korea has reacted coolly to the trip, with its foreign minister saying that it doesn’t have high expectations that it will change North Korea’s attitudes.