Ex-leaders to visit N Korea with Carter: Report

Tensions on the peninsula & food shortages will be the topics of discussion.

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2011, 13:36 PM IST

Seoul: Three former world leaders will
accompany ex-US president Jimmy Carter to North Korea this
month to discuss tensions on the peninsula and food shortages
in the communist state, a report said on Monday.

JoongAng Daily, quoting diplomatic sources in South
Korea, said Carter would be accompanied by former Finnish
President Martti Ahtisaari, former Irish President Mary
Robinson and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem
Brundtland.

The four are members of a group of ex-leaders known as
The Elders. The group said on its website it was concerned at
high inter-Korean tensions and the reported food shortages.

"A small group of Elders is considering a visit to the
region at the end of April to discuss with officials and
others how these issues may be addressed," the weekend
statement said, adding plans were not finalised.

Seoul`s foreign ministry said nothing had been
confirmed about such a visit.
Widespread media reports say Carter will pay a
three-day trip to Pyongyang starting April 26.

Carter, president from 1977-81, visited the North in
1994 after Washington came close to war with Pyongyang over
its nuclear weapons programme.

In talks with then-leader Kim Il-Sung, he helped
negotiate a deal under which the North shut down its reactor
in return for energy aid.

Last August the 2002 Nobel peace prizewinner visited
Pyongyang to secure the release of jailed US citizen Aijalon
Mahli Gomes.

The US-North Korean "Agreed Framework" agreement broke
down in 2002 and a subsequent six-nation deal reached in 2005
has also collapsed.

Carter was quoted last week as saying he would try to
revive the six-party talks and address humanitarian woes.

United Nations food agencies who recently visited the
North say more than six million people -- a quarter of the
population -- urgently need food aid.

Tension has been high on the peninsula since the
North`s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March
2010. Last November it shelled a South Korean island and
killed four people.

PTI