Skip to main content
CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!

N. Korea diplomats meet state governor

Kim Jong Il is lionized by North Korea's rigidly controlled media for turning the country into an
Kim Jong Il is lionized by North Korea's rigidly controlled media for turning the country into an "ideological and military power"

   Story Tools

more video VIDEO
N.M. Gov. Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., will discuss the nuclear standoff with Korean diplomats. CNN's Andrea Koppel reports (January 9)
premium content

SANTA FE, New Mexico (CNN) -- Two North Korean diplomats have begun meeting in Santa Fe with New Mexico's governor in what could be a sign the tension is easing over North Korea's nuclear buildup.

Bill Richardson -- a former U.N. ambassador and energy secretary during the Clinton administration -- hosted the two Thursday evening at the governor's mansion. He is to meet them again on Friday.

Richardson told reporters before the delegation arrived that he had been in touch with the Bush administration and "they're fully supportive of this effort."

A senior administration official told CNN that Richardson is expected to pass along a message that the United States may be willing to give assurances in writing that it has no intention of attacking North Korea -- a condition that would only be given if the Communist nation agrees to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

At a briefing in Washington, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, "The only message that we expect is what America's position is, that we are ready to talk and that we will not negotiate. That's the United States position. And you should not see this as anything beyond that."

He added: "We don't know what it is that North Korea wants to say to Governor Richardson."

North Korea, meanwhile, has also agreed to hold Cabinet-level talks with South Korea in the latter's capital, Seoul, Associated Press reports.

The talks, planned for January 21-24, will occur week later than the South had proposed, and will be the highest level of inter-Korean dialogue since the North's secret nuclear weapons program was revealed. (Full story)

The week's delay is expected to give North Korea more time to assess the latest flurry of diplomacy, including the Richardson meeting.

Richardson has long experience with North Korea from past service as ambassador to the United Nations and as the U.S. energy secretary under the Clinton administration.

During his tenure as a congressman, Richardson also negotiated the 1996 release of Evan Hunziker, who was held by North Korea on suspicions of espionage.

The fact that the North Korean delegation was able to travel to the birthplace of the nuclear age is a rarity.

Policy shift

One of the members of the Korean delegation has been identified as Han Song-Ryol, the North Korean deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. The name of the second delegate has not been released.

The meeting came about quickly after Washington announced a policy shift Tuesday, saying it would be willing to hold talks with Pyongyang.

That announcement was made at the end of two days of trilateral talks between the United States, Japan and South Korea.

A source close to Richardson said that the North Koreans contacted him Tuesday, after the U.S. announcement. Richardson then contacted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Alamogordo, New Mexico is where the first nuclear bomb was tested. Los Alamos, New Mexico is home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which conducts nuclear research.

Story Tools

Top Stories
Father guilty of killing 9 of his children
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.