Kim Jong Il has pardoned two American journalists who had been sentenced to hard labor for entering North Korea illegally, and ordered their release during the visit of former President Bill Clinton, the AP reports. Clinton had an emotional meeting today with the two women, an official tells ABC News, adding that Laura Ling and Euna Lee may return to the US tomorrow. Clinton himself left North Korea this evening. Al Gore, who founded the TV outlet where Ling and Lee worked, initially asked Clinton to visit North Korea, ABC notes.
Clinton, who earlier had a wide-ranging exchange of views with Kim, wouldn’t have gone to North Korea if he hadn’t been sure of coming home with the journalists, ABC says. With his trip, the US fulfills the country’s two demands: Along with a visit from a high-profile emissary, North Korea wanted an apology, which they received from Hillary Clinton a few weeks earlier on ABC News.