Monday, December 20, 2010
Gov. Bill Richardson Brokers Deal with North Korea for Return of UN Inspectors and More
Today, CNN reported that, "North Korea has agreed with US troubleshooter Bill Richardson to permit the return of UN nuclear inspectors as part of a package of measures to ease tensions on the peninsula."
Also today, Governor Richardson released the following statement about his visit to North Korea and the news that the country will not retaliate for military drills carried out today by South Korea.
"I am very encouraged by the news that North Korea will not react militarily to South Korea's drills,” Governor Richardson said. “During my meetings in Pyongyang, I repeatedly pressed North Korea not to retaliate. The result is that South Korea was able to flex its muscles, and North Korea reacted in a statesmanlike manner. I hope this will signal a new chapter and a round of dialogue to lessen tension on the Korean peninsula."
Governor Richardson said he reached agreement on the following three points during several meetings with top North Korean leaders:
1. Allowing IAEA monitors access to North Korea's uranium enrichment facility.
2. Negotiating a deal for a third party, such as South Korea, to buy fresh-fuel rods from North Korea.
3. Discussing a military commission consisting of representatives from North Korea, South Korea and the United States to monitor and prevent conflicts in the disputed areas of the West Sea. Additionally, creating a hot line between the North Korean and South Korean militaries to avert potential crises.
CNN also reported that Major General Pak Rim-Su, who leads North Korean forces along the tense border with the South, told Richardson that North Korea had recovered the remains of several hundred US servicemen killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War and offered to help secure their return to the United States.
Gov. Richardson was supposed to catch a flight from North Korea to Beijing earlier today (yesterday in North Korea) on his way back to New Mexico, but People's Daily is reporting that the flight was canceled due to heavy fog. CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who traveled with the governor to North Korea, said, "I've never seen such thick fog; and everyone who witnessed it, including our North Korean handlers, said it was the worst fog they'd ever been in." Gov. Richardson got on a (the next day, 12/21 in Korea) and is now in Beijing.
As for the extra night in Pyongyang, Blitzer had this to say:
And here's something you probably never thought you'd hear: What exactly are we doing to kill some time on this extra night in Pyongyang? We're at a karaoke bar singing all the best, latest great hits of the '70s including "Hotel California" and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree". Gov. Bill Richardson didn't sing, instead he was smoking a big fat cigar, enjoying The Eagles.