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Roger Clinton to play concert in North Korea

White House not informed of plans, officials say

November 25, 1999
Web posted at: 11:34 p.m. EST (0434 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CNN has learned that President Clinton's half-brother Roger Clinton is scheduled to visit North Korea in the first week of December. Roger Clinton and his band were invited to play in a concert in Pyongyang that will include artists from South Korea and North Korea.

Korecom, company based in Seoul, South Korea, has been working to make arrangements for the event. The six-day visit would include sightseeing.

Clinton administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Roger Clinton did not tell the White House of his plans to participate in the concert.

They pointed out that the president's half brother does not need approval and did not seek it, though the U.S. officials said it would be preferable if he or any other high-profile person would seek the administration's input in planning a trip to the communist country.

But, said one of the officials, "We've been down similar paths with Roger before -- he is his own unique person."

Roger Clinton joined the president Thursday for golf at a course near Camp David, Maryland.

Reporters asked the president about Roger Clinton's plans to travel to North Korea for the concert, but the president did not respond.

Earlier Thursday, a White House spokesman said he was not aware of any contact between the White House and Roger Clinton about the trip. Another White House official said that, if the musician was planning to travel to North Korea, the White House would "neither encourage or discourage" the trip.

The official said Roger Clinton would not be "taking a message from the president." He added that the visit should be viewed as that of a private citizen trying to promote a cultural exchange.

When asked if a visit to North Korea by a person with close ties to the president would pose a problem for the White House, the official said he had no comment.

There have been recent efforts between the North and South to increase the number of cultural events to create a better atmosphere between the long-time enemies. North and South Korea are still technically in a state of war since no armistice agreement was signed following the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea and the United States are also still technically in a state of war, although there are ongoing talks between the two over the North Korean missile program, energy development and the need to provide food aid.

There has been no official announcement from Roger Clinton or his management team on the trip. The musician's team has been negotiating with Korecom to play in the Pyongyang concert on December 5.

There has been a series of cultural and sports exchanges between the North and South this year, including a soccer match last August in Pyongyang between teams from North and South Korea. Last summer the North Korean women's soccer team came to the United States to play in the Women's World Cup soccer championship.

White House Correspondents John King and Kelly Wallace and Producer Larry Register contributed to this report.

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