McCain sees N.Korea as using Clinton visit for propaganda
WASHINGTON – Republican Senator John McCain says North Korea was attempting to use former President Bill Clinton’s visit for propaganda purposes and enhance the prestige of Pyongyang.
In an interview with Reuters, McCain said the Obama administration should resist any temptation to engage in direct talks with the North Koreans but instead should push North Korea to rejoin stalled six-party negotiations over its nuclear program.
The six-party talks include the United States and North and South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
McCain, the Republican candidate in last year’s presidential election won by Barack Obama, said he believes all Americans appreciate Clinton’s role in securing the release of two American journalists and sparing them from “the worst gulag in the world, with conditions that would make Stalin blush.”
“The question is, will this signal a change in North Korean behavior?” McCain said, recalling that a visit by former President Jimmy Carter to North Korean in 1994 led to hopes for a change but did not produce lasting progress.
In announcing the release of the two women, the North Korean news agency had said Clinton offered an apology for their behavior, a claim denied by the Obama White House. “I think it’s very clear that the North Koreans, in their statement when they talked about ‘profound apologies’ etcetera, tried to use this to enhance their prestige and use it for propaganda purposes, but that should surprise no one,” he said.
North Korea’s insistence that Clinton and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il discussed pending U.S.-North Korean issues and reached a consensus of views on seeking a negotiated settlement of them was seen by some analysts as a signal that North Korea was seeking direct talks with the United States.
Since taking office in January, the Obama administration so far has repeated the same demands long held by the United States, that North Korea needs to give up its nuclear weapons and stop provocative behavior.
McCain, long a vocal critic of North Korea, said direct talks should be resisted. “Let’s not change our policy of many administrations, of our goal of eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons, engage in six-party talks and continue our advocacy for human rights,” he said.
Photo credits: Euna Lee reunited with family – REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Clinton speaks with film producer Stephen Bing – REUTERS/Danny Moloshok