Former U.S. President Carter arrives in Pyongyang

17:45, August 25, 2010      

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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter crosses the military demarcation line in Panmunjom from DPRK to South Korea in this June 18, 1994 file photo. Carter will travel to DPRK within days to win the release of an American prisoner there, media reports said on August 24, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter arrived in Pyongyang Wednesday afternoon aboard a civilian jet. His trip is reportedly aimed at securing the release of an imprisoned American.

A Xinhua reporter who reported from Pyongyang international airport said that Carter was greeted by Kim Kye Gwan, vice foreign minister of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and declined to speak to the press at the airport.

U.S. media have said Carter would visit Pyongyang to negotiate the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes who was detained by the DPRK on Jan. 25 for entering the country illegally.

On April 6, Gomes, a 30-year-old former English teacher in South Korea, was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment and fined about 700,000 U.S. dollars.

Media reports said Carter may spend one night in Pyongyang and return with Gomes Thursday.

The Obama administration on Tuesday refused to comment on the visit, saying Washington had no plan to send envoy to Pyongyang and would continue to evaluate Gomes' situation through Swedish diplomats there to negotiate the release with Pyongyang.

Sweden represents U.S. interest in Pyongyang in the absence of diplomatic relations.

Carter, a Nobel peace laureate, is said to be travelling as a private citizen, similar to that by former President Bill Clinton in August last year when he secured the release of two U.S. journalists detained there for illegal entry.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who worked for the Current TV co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, were captured in March 2009, for illegally crossing the DPRK border from China and were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in June.

Following Clinton's visit, in which he met with the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang announced the release.

Carter, a Democrat, served as U.S. president from 1977 to 1981 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He made a historic trip to the DPRK in 1994 to help defuse a crisis over the country's nuclear program.

Source: Xinhua


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