Jimmy Carter Heads to North Korea

With other ex-leaders, former president aims to restart official talks
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 25, 2011 8:49 AM CDT
Former Irish President Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari are shown after arriving in Beijing today.   (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
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(Newser) – Jimmy Carter and three European ex-leaders are bound for North Korea and will arrive tomorrow in an attempt to resume an official dialogue, which "appears to be at a standstill," the former president said. Carter and the former heads of Finland, Norway, and Ireland—all members of a coalition of world leaders known as the Elders, which Nelson Mandela founded—are seeking to ease tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul, amid stalled six-party nuclear talks, the New York Times reports.

“The stakes are too high to allow this standoff to continue,” said former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. It’s not yet known whether the Elders members, who arrived yesterday in China, will be able to speak with Kim Jong-il, nor whether Carter will seek the release of an American detained in the country. It’s a private trip for Carter, who is not acting as a US envoy, said a State Department rep—but the former president has previously managed the release of Americans. The detainee, reportedly a Korean-American businessman from California, was taken in November; Pyongyang hasn’t stated the charges against him. Click for more.

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