'Dear Leader' Kim got his photo op. But will he get his way on bilateral nuclear talks?
The North Koreans alleged they had illegally entered the country and sentenced them to 12 years of hard labor, though it had kept them in a state guest house since. For the price of a photo-op with Clinton, a beaming Kim Jong-il, North Korea's self-styled "dear leader," let them go.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, that the release of the two was not connected in any way to North Korea's hopes for bilateral nuclear talks. The United States has consistently said any negotiations must be multilateral. "We have always considered that a totally separate issue from our efforts to reengage the North Koreans and have them return to the six-party talks and work for a commitment for the full, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Clinton said.
In an interview on the Today show Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton downplayed the likelihood of a potential breakthrough in talks as a result of the trip, and explained how her husband came to be involved: North Korea specifically asked for Bill, saying it would "be the best way to assure" the women's release.