News / Asia

Reports: Carter Making Private Trip to North Korea

FILE - Former President Jimmy Carter (l) speaks with journalists, after visiting the Belen convent in Old Havana, Cuba, March 2011.FILE - Former President Jimmy Carter (l) speaks with journalists, after visiting the Belen convent in Old Havana, Cuba, March 2011.
x
FILE - Former President Jimmy Carter (l) speaks with journalists, after visiting the Belen convent in Old Havana, Cuba, March 2011.
FILE - Former President Jimmy Carter (l) speaks with journalists, after visiting the Belen convent in Old Havana, Cuba, March 2011.
There are numerous reports that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter will travel to North Korea on a "private" mission to free a Korean-American man detained there.

Speaking to reporters Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Mr. Carter is making the North Korea trip in his "personal capacity." But later the White House issued a statement saying it was not confirming the reported Carter trip.

A Carter spokeswoman said the former president was in the Colombian capital, Bogota, on Monday, as part of a mission to "announce success in the fight against river blindness disease." She also said Carter has no "immediate" plans to travel to North Korea.

Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
x
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
Seeking Bae's release

Earlier Monday, the South Korean news agency Yonhap said Carter will visit Pyongyang soon to urge that North Korean leaders release Kenneth Bae.

North Korea detained Bae, a tour operator, in the northeastern port of Rason last November. He was later convicted of trying to topple the government and was sent to a prison camp to serve 15 years of hard labor.

The Internet petition website Change.org said Bae's family had no immediate response to the reports about Mr. Carter. The family launched a campaign on Change.org in early May, calling on the Obama administration to do everything it can to secure an amnesty for Bae and allow him to return home to his family and friends.

The former U.S. president has visited the impoverished country several times in recent years, despite the lack of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Washington. The two sides have yet to sign a peace treaty since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Diplomacy with Pyongyang

Carter first traveled to North Korea in 1994, when he met then-Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung to defuse a nuclear crisis triggered by Pyongyang's expulsion of international nuclear inspectors.

Carter traveled again to North Korea in August 2010 and secured the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, another American citizen who had been sentenced to hard labor on charges of entering the country illegally. The former president last visited Pyongyang in April 2011 as part of an international group of former statesmen and women, known as The Elders.

Bae recently urged the U.S. government to secure his release, saying he is in poor health and wants to be reunited with his family. He made the emotional appeal from prison as he spoke in Korean in a videotaped interview granted to the Japanese newspaper Choson Sinbo, which is sympathetic to Pyongyang.

The newspaper published the interview on July 3 and said it was conducted on June 26 with North Korean government approval.

Colin Lovett contributed to this report from Washington.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs