August 20th, 2009
12:02 PM ET
9 years ago

Richardson: discussions with N. Koreans show a 'bit of a thaw'

Richardson said that North Korea wanted direct talks with the United States.

Richardson said that North Korea wanted direct talks with the United States.

(CNN) - A day after meeting with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, two North Korean diplomats will meet Thursday with community and business leaders in the state to discuss renewable energy initiatives, the governor's office said.

Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the governor would not be part of the briefings because he would be in Las Cruces. However, the governor will try to meet them at the Albuquerque airport before they leave, Gallegos said.

After meeting Wednesday with Kim Myong Gil and Taek Jong Ho - senior diplomats with the North Korean mission to the United Nations - Richardson said that North Korea wanted direct talks with the United States.

"I think there's a little bit of a thaw," he told CNN's American Morning on Thursday. "I think they wanted to basically send a message that they're ready to engage in a dialogue with the United States."

He had said Wednesday that North Korea believed it is owed bilateral talks with the United States after the communist government released two detained American journalists this month, and that Pyongyang did not want the six-party talks, which had been aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program.

Senior Obama administration officials quickly rejected the notion, saying that six-party talks are still the proper venue for such a dialogue. They emphasized that Richardson was not negotiating on the president's behalf.

The administration officials said North Korea can choose one of two paths: either continued provocation by testing missiles or a more peaceful road on which they live up to previous commitments.

Richardson suggested Thursday that a compromise within six-party talks might best handle the situation. "Have some bilateral discussions with the North Koreans," he said.

"Call it all an adjunct of the six-party talks. But this is diplomacy, this is engagement, so I think both sides need to come together on some
formulation, and I think the atmosphere is a lot better to do that."

He said the North Koreans "basically said everything was on the table," in terms of what they would discuss.

The North Korean diplomats' visit comes after former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea to gain the release of the two detained U.S.
journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling. During the visit Clinton met with reclusive leader Kim Jong Il, whose government is under U.N. sanctions for its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program.

"They do feel they are owed a gesture on the U.S. part," Richardson said Wednesday, adding, "I don't believe that should be the case because this was a humanitarian gesture that needed to happen."

The White House has said that Clinton was not carrying any message - written or oral - from President Barack Obama, and it described Clinton's trip as a "solely private mission to secure the release of two Americans."

Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has traveled to North Korea several times, most recently in April 2007 to secure the return of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.

He said the North Korean officials had approached him with the idea of this latest meeting.

–CNN's Ed Henry, Paul Vercammen, Elise Labott and Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

Filed under: Bill Richardson • North Korea
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Some republican guy

    "I think there's a little bit of a thaw," he told CNN's American Morning on Thursday. "I think they wanted to basically send a message that they're ready to engage in a dialogue with the United States."

    Dialog shmialog. Only narcisstic obamabots want to talk to our enemys. We need to shoot nukular bombs at them and then invade them. We'll be greeted as liberators! Have a nice day!

    August 20, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. diridi

    billy, do not worry about north korea....just keep working on fixing our nation's Healrh care. You all bring dems, I don't care whether blue dogs or blue cats, all dems need to stay together and fix this health care with public option.....GOP thugs are scaring our seniors...america's do not lose a dime, nor your health care coverage...with get benifited a lot....let us all pass this health care reform with public option....GOP is half dead with sonia sotomayer appointment with hispanic votes...if this needed (MUCH) bill not passed these GOP is totally dead in USA!!!!GOP don't be idiots....ok...Democrats, pass without GOP....if they do not cooperate....nation needs this health care reform with public option is a dire necessity....God bless pres. obama....for you Ed Henry, and Lou Dobbs, don't act funny, and don't be idiotic...we need this legislation america...than ever before...ok God bless pres. obama...and USA!!!!!Amen

    August 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. LIP

    First Hillary says some negative stuff about N Korea needing to abide by the agreements they originally agreed to, then some reporters working for Al Gore mistakingly wander into N Korea and are captured and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, then Bill heads off to N Korea and gets them freed and then Hillary takes a shot at some students in Africa because of an interpreter misinterpreting a question and now Richardson has a meeting with N Korean officials who think because they were good guys, they should get a break and BO repeats what Hillary originally said and meanwhile Bill and Hillary are doing one of their rare get togethers prompted by the recent news surrounding who was hired to do what job. They will be dancing on the beach again.
    The script has been written and Bill and Hillary are really working on a book deal this weekend for all of the above.

    August 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Obama is saying he will not meet with N.K. until they do certain things.

    Wasn't that what Hillary was saying during the presidential debates when he said he would meet with anyone in the world?

    So he is doing what he faulted her for. Well that was a long time ago and he figures he can break promises older than so many days I guess.

    Messiah meets reality.

    I wish he would just be a truthful, straightforward liberal like he advertized. (and bring ALL the troops home)

    August 20, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Eunice

    Hillary Clinton is more than qualified. I think the North Koreans have a problem with women. Well until they get over it, I think it is wrong for POTUS to allow others to go over and talk. Former Bill Clinton is one thing, but New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.... is out of place. I think POTUS is not treating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fairly and that is probably why she went off in Africa. I don't blame her. A lot of people support Hillary Clinton and we don't appreciate the slight treatment she seems to be getting.

    August 20, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Doraine Gordon

    It will be great if we can once again talk with North Korea. If talking with these folks will keep peace in the world we need to do just that. Alot of people fault Obama for wanting to talk with our enemies. He is doing the right thing by talking with everyone. The Bush Administration refused to talk with anyone and look where it got us. Bush caused our country to be alone when we could have used some help. His my way or the highway got us nowhere. He came across as a hard headed cowboy and I am glad he is gone. God Bess Obama!!

    August 20, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Mike

    Look, hate North Korea all you want, there is NOTHING wrong with starting diplomatic relations with them. It would give them something to do besides threatening to shoot nukes at South Korea. On top of that, if we actually did make some progress, it would be an enormously positive development for our security and international prestige.

    August 20, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Deuce

    Richardson? Sounds icey to me. But dream on!!

    August 20, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. vic nashville , Tn

    Obama administration playing cards well in foreign affairs

    I don’t know why they are avoiding in health care reform

    August 20, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. David

    Why is Hillary drawing a government check? Can I have the share of taxes I pay for her salary back please?

    August 20, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Nagudcm Sugna

    Join me in welcoming Bill Richardson as the new Secretary of State.

    August 20, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. chris

    Where is Hillary?

    August 20, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    There's other words for APPEASEMENT and WEAKNESS.
    Let's see where it gets us.

    August 20, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Fan of Common Sense

    I'm getting confused. Somebody remind me, who is the Secretary of State again?

    August 20, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Obama Victim

    does Hillary still work here??

    August 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Mississippi Mike

    I wonder what Hillary Clinton thinks about the governor of New Mexico doing her job for her?

    August 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Jim Voigh

    Looks like Secretary Clinton is being sidelined by the administration, no?

    August 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. RR

    Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson deal with North Korea.

    Sen. Webb meets with Burmese Junta.

    Why do we have a Secretary of State? What are we paying Hillary Clinton for?

    August 20, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. mark

    get to work Hillary!

    August 20, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. J.C. - Independent

    Thanks to Governor Richardson's contributions as a top diplomat to the world! I hope President Obama to pick him as our next Secretary of State.

    August 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Tedra

    May I ask what we are paying Hillary for?? OH YEAH – to keep out of the '12 race.

    August 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Ally

    Another Democrat accomplishing what a Republican could never do.

    August 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. pete

    Oh well, Obama will just give them money. Just like he did for Brazil to do offshore drilling. Helping another one of his cronies George Soros. Just like Axelrod just helped his son where he works. See it just is Dem of Rebup. It is all of them. Lets get real and kick them all out

    August 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. franco

    Hillary is history to this administration. N. Korea does not want to deal with her. She needs to return her Gov' t paycheck; she is not productive

    August 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Kevin B

    If we were still under the GWB incompetent regime or a reactionary and senile McCain/Palin administration, these twoyoung ladies would not home, because the GOP has no one of any international stature with any shred of credibility in world affairs thanks to GOP bumbling of foriegn policy from 2000 to 2008.

    Good job Mr President and team !

    August 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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