Facebook Twitter

DIPLOMACY MISSION TO N. KOREA TURNS STICKY FOR CLINTON, CARTER

SHARE DIPLOMACY MISSION TO N. KOREA TURNS STICKY FOR CLINTON, CARTER

The point President Clinton wanted to make is that the North Koreans asked former President Jimmy Carter to visit "as a private citizen."

The point Carter made is that if Clinton had been doing his job, his visit wouldn't have been necessary.Explaining why he agreed to Carter's trip, Clinton said Monday, "Well, the North Koreans asked President Carter to come as a private citizen. He called me, and we agreed that the trip might be productive - that he would go, he would listen, he would faithfully state the views of our administration and reaffirm that our interest is in seeing that North Korea honor its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its commitment to a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula."

Now that Carter has returned to the United States, reporting that North Korea is willing to freeze its nuclear program if Washington sits down at the negotiating table, Clinton is wondering if he made a mistake.

Scrambling to find out "the facts," Clinton said he must verify that North Korean "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung made a personal commitment to Carter that he will honor.

Concerned that Carter advanced his own agenda and not the current administration's sanctions-based agenda, Clinton didn't even meet Carter personally Sunday when Carter returned from Korea. Instead, Clinton talked to Carter by phone from Camp David and then had his national security aides debrief him.

Clinton basically is suggesting that Carter may be naive about North Korea; Carter is suggesting that Clinton exacerbated tensions to a dangerous level by pushing forward with proposed sanctions against North Korea without having ordered some basic diplomacy first.

However, Clinton already has backed away from demanding verification for how much plutonium North Korea has stockpiled. Now the administration insists North Korea must stop where it is.