Bill Clinton has met with reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, official state media reports. The Korean news agency described Clinton as "courteously" conveying a message from President Obama, saying he and Kim shared a "wide-ranging exchange of views." But the White House denied that Clinton was bearing such a message, calling the trip a "solely private mission." The former president arrived in Pyongyang today in an unmarked aircraft, in an effort to free detained journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
"We do not want to jeopardize the success of former President Clinton’s mission," Robert Gibbs said this morning. Clinton was greeting in Pyongyang by several North Korean officials, including the country's chief nuclear negotiator, the New York Times reports, raising speculation that he may have a broader agenda beyond the journalists' release. Clinton commands considerable respect among North Korean officials, who struck several deals with his administration before relations deteriorated under George W. Bush.