August 9th, 2009
10:04 AM ET
5 years ago

SOTU: Rice won’t rule out troubleshooting role for Bill Clinton

Rice said it was 'ridiculous' to say Bill Clinton was acting in any official capacity during his trip to North Korea.
Rice said it was 'ridiculous' to say Bill Clinton was acting in any official capacity during his trip to North Korea.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said that the Obama administration was pleased with the result of former President Bill Clinton’s private mission that resulted in the release of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee – and wouldn’t rule out bringing him back on board in a more official role in the future.

“Obviously this was not a negotiation. I want to be clear about this,” she told CNN’s John King on “State of the Union.”

“This was a humanitarian mission. But Bill Clinton has enormous skills, experience and talent, we’re very grateful for his willingness to take this private mission, and pleased with the results. I can’t predict what might transpire down the road but we obviously value what he can contribute.”

Clinton traveled to North Korea last week and spoke with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, securing the release of the two women.

Rice said it was “ridiculous” to say Clinton was acting in an official capacity or relaying any messages on the administration’s behalf. But she conceded that his visit provided the White House with some valuable insight into the state of the regime.

“Obviously he listened, and obviously we are still in the process of continuing our debriefing with President Clinton, and obviously he heard what Kim Jong-il had to say,” she said. “And what that contributes to our understanding of what’s going on in North Korea I’d rather not get into in this discussion, but obviously we look forward to a full analysis of the observations and analysis of what President Clinton brought back.”

Rice said Clinton’s mission, and the release of Ling and Lee, would not change the administration’s approach or policy toward the regime.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • State of the Union • Susan Rice
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Mary

    Bill has redeemed himself after his awful behavior in his wife's primary.I am proud of him and of obama for using him and not being afraid to share the limelight with him. Bush was always too insecure to use smart people in his administration for fear they would make him look dumb by comparison or that they would steal the attention away from him. I've never
    been more proud of my country or government than I am now!

    August 9, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. New Age Democrat

    Message to Rice: Hillary lost the nomination because of Bill. And because of that we were stuck with Obama and his overly apparent lack of experience and leadership. I was fooled down that path, but events have forced me to see the truth. Please dont give Bill any more press than necessary, the guy will only implode the party.

    August 9, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Tony Rosario

    Sarah Palin is making a strong name for herself as a Republican with a complete disregard for being an American. To foment a dialogue around euthanasia in regard to the current health reform discussion is more of the same dishonest, deceiptful, and fear-mongering rhetoric that the republican Party has become known for. Our current president and administration have been elected by a democratic process the Republicans were only to willing to stand by when George Bush took office. Now the tide has turned out of their favor the best that their "Bulldog with Lipstick" can do is to lie, cheat, denegrate, and demonize the very country and government that have given her the right to run her mouth. Shame on you Sarah Palin, go run for office in Iran.

    August 9, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. jinxie

    Maybe we could get Wild Bill Clinton to gallup over to The White House and practice a little humanitarian diplomacy and get Mustafa Setmariam Nassar a phone call. Pakistan kidnapped this man and turned him over to us over four years ago and his wife and children are getting a little concerned because we deny him the right to one lousy phone call. We won't even answer her calls. At least North Korea let Ling and Lee use a phone. At least North Korea acknowledged their detention and what camp they were at.
    Nobody could ever imagine releasing a Muslim intellectual. He's obviously much too dangerous to the security of the United States, especially since it's been a few thousand barely literate Jihadiis that has brought the most powerful nation in the world to its knees. But you would think we could cut loose one lousy phone call. Are we that terrorized by one man?
    Unless he's dead. And then we would have to cover it up. Because we're Blackwater Americans. That's how we roll.

    August 9, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Jenn, Philadelphia

    You should apologize when you do something wrong. Those women violated the borders of North Korea and entered the country illegally. If all Bill Clinton did was apologize on their behalf to get them released, I'm all for it.

    August 9, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Sunny Soleil

    President G.W. Bush did use President Clinton's and G.H.W. Bush's help with the Tsunami and for raising funds for post Katrina rebuilding. It could be said that he started the trend and in a bipartisan way at that.

    We may not agree with all that he did, but that should not prevent us from acknowledging the good things he did.

    I also think once the dust truly settles, if President Obama were to task President G.W. Bush with a mission that plays to his strengths – he would accept the mission and would do his very best to accomplish it.

    The way W. shows his love for America may not be the way a democrat would – but he loves America.

    August 9, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. RR

    Here's an idea. next time US citizens illegally cross into a country and are arrested for violating that country's laws, let 'em sleep in the beds they made.

    August 9, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Tom, Atlanta

    Bill did not apologize for the policies of the U.S. nor the actions of the U.S. He apologized for these two women who made the mistake of crossing into North Korea illegally. To all of those who say the U.S. does no wrong are fools the U.S. in the past has made many mistakes and will make many more in the future to think other wise is childish. I am proud to live in the GREATEST COUTRY in the WORLD.
    Bill did a good thing get over it all of you haters….

    August 9, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Independent

    Welcome Back Bill!!!!!

    August 9, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Jane

    I think anyone who can use diplomacy is a valuable asset. In this case, Bill Clinton succeeded.

    August 9, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    The message has been sent loud and clear. Anytime some rogue out-of-control dictator wants some attention and respect and wants to make the U.S. look like his personal lap dog, just take some Americans prisoner and Bill will come to lick their boots on TV.

    I guess Clinton doesn't feel he did enough damage to the country while he was president. The girls in North Korea and the hikers in Iran never would have been taken prisoner while Bush and Cheney were in office. They wouldn't have dared.

    August 9, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. benny

    That is a very smart move! Bill Clinton may have had his problems, but he is definitely one of the most intelligent Presidents we have ever had. He did more for Americans in the (8) years he was in office than many Presidents ever accomplished in (4) years! He also is very capable of handling humanitarian challenges. And further, he STILL is respected around the world! That certainly is an accomplishment that GEORGE BUSH, DICK CHENEY, SARA PALIN, RUSH LIMBAUGH, MICHAEL STEELE, AND ALL OF THE REST OF THE "DEAD IN THE WATER REPUBLICANS" have never come close to achieving!

    August 9, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. J

    President Obama is handling far more than any President in US history .
    Plus new challenges on a daily basis.
    He is a good man and he is working hard but he cannot do it alone.
    To move this country forward, he will need help from all Americans.

    August 9, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama is pleased – give me a break! Bill and Hillary Clinton are world leaders, Obama is a camerafly, more symbol than substance.

    August 9, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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