Jimmy Carter North Korea, Trip To Free Aijalon Mahli Gomes
Jimmy Carter Visits Pyongyang, North Korea To Free Aijalon Mahli Gomes
Former US President Jimmy Carter is in Pyongyang, N. Korea to free American Aijalon Mahli Gomes who was sentenced to 8 years hard labor for entering North Korea illegally in 2009.
Officially, Washington described his trip as a private humanitarian mission to secure the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, an American from Boston who was sentenced in April to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for illegally entering the North. But Mr. Carter’s trip loomed large because of his track record of helping defuse the first Korean nuclear crisis more than 16 years ago.
Indeed, some observers say Jimmy Carter is an ideal candidate to handle what is considered a delicate trip to North Korea.
Carter has credibility with the face-conscious North Koreans, who hosted the former president at a pivotal visit in 1994. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate met then North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and persuaded him to join talks about its nuclear weapons ambitions. At the time, the North had threatened to reprocess its spent nuclear fuel, prompting the Clinton administration to call for U.N. sanctions.
The Jimmy Carter North Korea trip is not an official US mission. Carter is going to North Korea as a private citizen on behalf of Aijalon Mahli Gomes.
The main reason is Washington does not officially want to deal with North Korea especially after the sinking of the South Korean ship earlier in 2010.
Critics point out that by sending Carter to North Korea the US administration is playing into the North's hands - throw an American in jail send a President to free the detained American, all the while conducting some unofficial nuclear diplomacy on the side is not a good precedent to set according to former US ambassador John Bolton (see video).