Jimmy Carter Headed to N. Korea to Free American

Ex-president might just go 'off the reservation' again
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2010 7:50 AM CDT
A Jan. 12, 2010 file photo shows American Aijalon Mahli Gomes during a rally denouncing North Korean's human rights conditions at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the DMZ.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
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(Newser) – Another August, another white-haired ex-president heads off to North Korea to collect an American prisoner, reports Foreign Policy. This time it's Jimmy Carter, who has reportedly decided to travel—as a private citizen, so as not to undermine White House policy toward the Hermit Kingdom—to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, the 30-year-old from Boston who was sentenced to eight years in prison in April for illegally entering the country.

"I don't anticipate that in any way President Carter will be carrying water for Obama or for any change in policy toward North Korea," says one think-tank chief, though Foreign Policy notes the independent Carter went "off the reservation" in 1994, negotiating with Pyongyang without the Clinton Administration's blessing. And he likely will this time, says a former ambassador. "Carter has a history, an understanding, and a point-of-view where I can't imagine he would not, on his own, engage the North Koreans on substantive issues more than just the return of Mr. Gomes."

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