August 18th, 2009
06:57 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama, Clinton meet to discuss North Korea trip

Clinton met with Obama Tuesday.
Clinton met with Obama Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton met for 70 minutes Tuesday with President Barack Obama to brief him on Clinton's trip to North Korea earlier this month to secure the release of two jailed journalists.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the men since Clinton returned to the United States on August 5 with the two journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

Related: White House issues statement on meeting

During his stay in North Korea, Clinton met with reclusive leader Kim Jong Il, whose government is under U.N. sanctions for its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program.

A White House statement said Obama and Clinton met for nearly 40 minutes in the White House Situation Room, where Obama thanked Clinton for undertaking the mission.

"Former President Clinton described the process, including a meeting with Kim Jong Il, that culminated in the North Korean leadership granting 'special amnesty' to the two journalists and permitting them to return to the United States," the statement said.

After the meeting, Obama invited Clinton to the Oval Office to continue their conversation for another 30 minutes, according to the statement.

Before Tuesday's meeting with Obama, Clinton had debriefed with members of the president's National Security team at least twice since his return, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton missed the meeting because of a scheduling conflict, with a meeting with Colombia's foreign minister, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said. Cheryl Mills, the chief of staff for Secretary Clinton and her point person on the situation regarding the detained journalists, was to attend in her place, Kelly said.

Ling and Lee were working for California-based Current TV, a media venture of former Vice President Al Gore, when they were arrested in March for crossing the border between China and North Korea.

They were sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor. Kim pardoned the women after meeting with Clinton.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (2 Responses)