(CNN) - Even in the midst of incredible tension on the North Korean peninsula, there have been a few lighter moments as I continue covering New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's extraordinary visit here.
He's trying to calm down the tensions and has been meeting with senior North Korean diplomats, generals and nuclear officials, including Kim Gye Gwan, the North Korean who invited Richardson here on this mission.
Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN) - It's Saturday morning in Pyongyang and we're getting ready for another intense day. The situation here is very fluid right now and a lot of nerves are being frayed because of the tensions between North and South Korea. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is getting ready for important talks in the next few hours with Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, the man who invited him to Pyongyang.
Richardson is urging restraint everywhere he goes. He's really worried that this situation is, in his words, a "tinderbox" where one miscalculation could lead to all-out war. He says he's never seen the situation so tense in all his visits to North Korea over the years; he agrees it's the most serious crisis since the 1953 Armistice which ended the Korean War.
Beijing, China (CNN) - New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson arrived here just a little while ago - a short layover on the way to Pyongyang, North Korea.
I am traveling with him covering his four day private visit to North Korea. I've been to China and South Korea - including the DMZ - but never to North Korea and am looking forward to seeing it.
(CNN) - Government ministers from the United States, Japan and South Korea will meet in Washington in early December to discuss North Korea, South Korea's foreign affairs ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry did not provide further details about the date of the meeting.
(CNN) - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described the behavior of North Korea as "belligerent" on Sunday, following a report that the country is stepping up its nuclear program.
"It confirms or validates the concern we've had for years about their enriching uranium which they've denied routinely," Adm. Mike Mullen said on CNN's "State of the Union." "All of this is consistent with belligerent behavior, the kind of instability creation in a part of the world that is very dangerous."
Washington (CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter is traveling to North Korea to free detained American Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a senior administration official and another source familiar with the trip said Monday.
Both sources described the trip as a "private humanitarian mission" to free Gomes, a 31 year-old Boston resident who was sentenced in April to eight years at a hard labor camp for illegally crossing North Korea's border with China and for an unspecified "hostile act."
While President Carter contacted the Obama administration about the trip, no officials will be traveling with him and he "will not be carrying any message on behalf of the United States government," the senior official said.
North Korean state media KCNA reported Gomes attempted suicide because he felt the US had not done enough to free him.
Editor's Note: The following story appeared on the CNN Political Ticker on August 5, 2009.
BURBANK, California (CNN) – Laura Ling expressed the shock that she and Euna Lee felt when former President Bill Clinton showed up in North Korea to secure the two journalists' release.
"We feared at any moment that we could be sent to a hard labor camp, and then suddenly we were told we were going to a meeting," a tearful and emotional Ling said Wednesday.
She spoke at a news conference just minutes after the two women were reunited with their families at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport outside Los Angeles.
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) – The U.S. hopes tougher sanctions against North Korea will pressure the country to end its nuclear weapons program, a State Department official said Monday.
Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, is discussing the sanctions with senior government officials in Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan, this week.
"These measures are not directed at the North Korean people, but our objective is to put an end to [North Korea's] destabilizing proliferation activities, to halt illicit activities that help fund its nuclear missile programs and to discourage further provocative actions," Einhorn told reporters, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced tougher sanctions Wednesday against North Korea, including freezing some assets in an attempt to keep the Communist dictatorship from buying and selling arms.
The announcement came as Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited South Korea, part of a rare high-level meeting with members of the government of the key Asian ally.
The U.S. delegation arrived in Seoul this week to show support for South Korea over the sinking in March of the warship Chenonan.
A multinational investigation found North Korea responsible for the torpedo attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors.
Washington (CNN) - The United States hopes cool, careful language will keep the North Korea crisis from boiling over.
The Obama administration has been vocal in condemning North Korea for sinking a South Korean navy ship in March and killing 46 South Korean sailors. It is accusing North Korea of aggression and provocation.
But you won't hear American officials call this "an act of war." In fact, from President Barack Obama on down the command chain in this latest Korean crisis, "war" is missing in action.
Obama set the tone, offering support and condolences to the South Koreans in March. Once an international investigation was completed last week, a White House statement called the ship sinking "an act of aggression ... one more instance of North Korea's unacceptable behavior and defiance of international law."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit the same notes during her trip to China.
"We are working hard to avoid an escalation, belligerence and provocation," Clinton said Monday. "This is a highly precarious situation that the North Koreans have caused in the region and it is one that every country that neighbors or is in proximity to North Korea understands must be contained."