Tales from the Trail
Happy Thanksgiving! Washington Extra will return on Monday.
Here are our top stories from Washington today…
U.S. vows unified response to North Korea, eyes restraint
The U.S. urged restraint following a North Korean artillery attack on South Korea and vowed to forge a “measured and unified” response with major powers including China.
“We will not be drawn into rewarding North Korea for bad behavior,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said today, after revelations that the world’s most reclusive state showed off its latest advances in uranium enrichment. “They frequently anticipate doing something outrageous or provocative and forcing us to jump through hoops as a result. We’re not going to buy into this cycle.”
As President Barack Obama begins his visit to India, his erstwhile rival John McCain is voicing hope that Washington and New Delhi will tighten up their military cooperation in the face of China’s “troubling” assertiveness.
North Korea — you have been warned.
The State Department on Monday held out the possibility that the isolated Stalinist state’s belligerent rumblings could earn it a powerful new foe on the world stage: animal rights activist group PETA.
It turns out that it was North Korea which had suggested that former President Bill Clinton would be the best person to come and negotiate the release of two journalists who had been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in the Stalinist state.
The U.S. government — particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — had been working for months on trying to free the two journalists. The secretary of state reportedly proposed sending various people to Pyongyang, including Clinton’s former vice president Al Gore, to lobby for the women’s release.
But North Korea rejected Gore and other possible envoys like Senator John Kerry, Governor Bill Richardson and former ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg. Pyongyang wanted President Clinton and passed that word along through the two detained journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were making occasional phone calls to their families.
“In mid-July during one such phone call, Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee shared what the North Koreans had told them — that they would be willing to grant them amnesty and release the two Americans if an envoy in the person of President Clinton would agree to come to Pyongyang and seek their release,” a senior administration official said.