N. Korea's Regime Seems More Stable Than Thought

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2009 8:59 PM CDT
Bill Clinton and Kim Jong Il during their meeting.   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service, File)
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(Newser) – Bill Clinton's 20-hour visit to North Korea shed more light on the secretive regime than a slew of intelligence-gathering operations, the New York Times reports. Clinton, who formally briefed President Obama today, learned most importantly that Kim Jong-Il appears to be in better health than thought. He appeared "unexpectedly spry," notes the Times, welcoming Clinton with a long dinner filled with "chit-chat" and an offer to stay up later.

Two aides long thought to have been pushed out accompanied Kim during his meetings with Clinton, which could ease rumors of internal tensions. The meetings focused mostly on the detained American journalists and did not delve into substantive talks on nuclear weapons. But the inside view itself was striking. "The Clinton trip has got a lot of people rethinking and reassessing," said a North Korea adviser to the Bush administration.