Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Governor Bill Richardson Confirms Trip to North Korea as Private Citizen
There has been a spate of recent media reports on rumors that Governor Bill Richardson will be traveling to North Korea to meet with the Pyongyang government. Today, Richardson's office issued a statement confirming the trip.
Governor Richardson will travel next week on a private trip to Pyongyang at the invitation of First Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator. The governor will be in Pyongyang from December 16-20, and will be accompanied by his senior advisor, Dr. K.A. Namkung. The trip is being privately funded.
“I am increasingly concerned with the recent actions by the North Koreans, which have raised tensions and are contributing to instability on the Korean Peninsula,” Governor Richardson said. “I am traveling as a private citizen with considerable experience in dealing with the North Koreans.
“I am not carrying any messages, but I want to be helpful during this volatile period,” Governor Richardson said. “If I can contribute to the easing of tension on the peninsula, the trip will be well worth it.”
According to a recent Washington Post story, more of this kind of activity may be in the offing when Richardson leaves office in January:
We're hearing Richardson has signed up with the Washington Speakers Bureau, which will probably enable him to put some fine bread on the table. In addition, he's going to set up a center in Santa Fe to focus on ways to rescue people being held hostage by bad guys and on initiating dialogue with rogue regimes.
As noted in an AP report,
Richardson has traveled to North Korea seven times, most recently in 2007 to recover the remains of American servicemen killed in the Korean War. He also has met in New Mexico with North Korean diplomats three times since 2003, when he became governor.
He was U.N. ambassador in the Clinton administration and for years has served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter, including missions to Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.