NORTH KOREA: Clinton leaves Pyongyang with freed journalists

The former U.S. president's plane is en route to Los Angeles to reunite the two American journalists with their families

The Korea Herald
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton departed Pyongyang with two freed American journalists on Wednesday, according to his spokesman and North Korean media, ending a trip highlighted by his "exhaustive" talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Yonhap News reported.

Clinton boarded an unmarked plane just hours after Kim granted a special pardon to the female reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were detained in mid-March for illegally entering North Korea.

"Bill Clinton, former president of the United States, and his party left here today by air," Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The report did not say Clinton left with the journalists, but footage from APTN showed the two women, one wearing crimson top and the other in green, ascending stairs to the plane and shaking hands with Clinton, who was waiting for them at the top.

Clinton waved to North Korean officials and others seeing him off.

"They were seen off at the airport by Yang Hyong-sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Kim Kye-gwan, vice-minister of foreign affairs," the report said. Kim and Yang had received Clinton at the airport in Pyongyang a day earlier.

The two reporters were en route to Los Angeles to be reunited with their families, according to foreign press reports quoting Clinton's spokesman.