DPRK's release of journalists aims at normalizing relations with U.S.: scholar

August 6, 2009 9:21 am 

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 6 — The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s dramatic release of two jailed American journalists is seen by a U.S. scholar as an attempt to normalize diplomatic ties with the United States.

Tom Plate, founder and director of Pacific Perspectives Media Center in Los Angeles, told Xinhua that he thought the release of reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee was a gift from the DPRK.

The decision to free them may have been made long before former U.S. President Bill Clinton's clandestine trip to Pyongyang, Plate said, adding that at the end it was just a question of the modalities and personalities of the hand-over.

He said Clinton's trip was not primarily about the reporters and instead, was mainly about the future of the U.S.-DPRK bilateral relationship.

In a column released Wednesday, Plate said leaders from the DPRK have been looking for a way to resume talks leading to diplomatic normalization with the United States.

Therefore, Plate said, the key would be for the top tier of the country to deal with the top tier of the United States.

Plate predicted that the release of Ling and Lee will not prove the end of the game but would be merely a preliminary round.

It makes more sense for the Obama administration to authorize Clinton to return to Pyongyang since the former president feels he has major unfinished business there, Plate said.

Just before leaving office more than eight years ago, Clinton and his top people believed that a peace agreement with the DPRK was almost at hand. His successor scotched the deal and wanted no part of it. So the Obama administration can now revisit the issue and let Clinton nail it all down, Plate said. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/rsm

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