August 10, 2009

Good little GOP water carrier John King asks Susan Rice what she thinks about disgraced ex-UN Ambassador John Bolton's statement that "It comes perilously close to negotiating with terrorists" sending Bill Clinton to North Korea to free the two journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Gee John, why didn't you just ask her if Clinton was "palling around with terrorists" while you were at it?

Rice appropriately said that the statement was ridiculous. I have a question for John King. Why do you think anyone should care what John Bolton thinks about anything? The man never found a country out there he didn't want to deal with in any manner other than with threats and intimidation. Bush had to put him in there as a recess appointment since he'd have never been confirmed by the Senate, but you're going to ask the new Ambassador who did make it through the confirmation process what she thinks of war monger Bolton's statement? Spare me King.

KING: Another dramatic international story this past week was former President Bill Clinton coming back from North Korea. A president you served at the State Department and in the White House. He came back with the journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been kept prisoner in North Korea.

There are those very critical of this. While they're applauding the release of these two journalists, they say essentially that the United States gave up too much. A man who once held your job at the United Nations, John Bolton, saying, "It comes perilously close to negotiating with terrorists," sending Bill Clinton over there and giving North Korea certainly a propaganda victory with those photographs. Perilously close to negotiating with terrorists?

RICE: Absolutely not. That's, in fact, a ridiculous statement. We don't negotiate with terrorists. That's the policy of the United States, but this was a unique opportunity for the former president, on a private humanitarian mission, to obtain the release of two American women who have been held for many months.

It would have been disgraceful for the United States, having verified that this was a real opportunity to obtain their release, to leave them in captivity.

KING: He's not just...

RICE: This was a private humanitarian mission. It accomplished the release of these two women. We're relieved and delighted to see them reunited with their families. It in no ways changes our policy or approach to North Korea, and we are quite pleased with the outcome.

KING: He's hardly a normal private citizen. He's the former president of the United States, and his wife happens to be the secretary of state...

RICE: Indeed.

KING: ... of the United States, and he went over there with his former chief of staff and others who worked on the Korea issue at the State Department. So it was a pretty high-powered delegation.

Did we gain anything from it? He spent more than three hours talking to Kim Jong-Il, a man that people in your job and elsewhere in the administration frankly concede we don't know a lot about, because he's such a reclusive leader.

Did we gain any new information? And was there a message back to this administration about what next? Another country with whom we have very difficult dealings over its nuclear program.

RICE: Well, let me restate that this was a private humanitarian mission. President Clinton...

KING: People talk, though.

RICE: President Clinton did not convey any message from President Obama. But...

KING: Did he bring one back?

RICE: Obviously, he listened. And we're still in the process of continuing our debriefings with President Clinton, and he obviously heard what Kim Jong-Il had to say. And what that contributes to our understanding of what's going on in North Korea I'd rather not get into in this discussion, but obviously we look forward to a full analysis of the observations and analysis of what President Clinton brought back.

KING: Respecting, do you want to have further conversations. Does it leave you more hopeful that there might be a diplomatic opening just around the corner or less hopeful?

RICE: I don't think either, John. The fact is the North Koreans know what they have to do if they want to rejoin and be responsible members of the international community.

Our goal is the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They have made commitments, the North Koreans, that they have not fulfilled. So they need to uphold their international obligations, return to the six-party talks.

In that context, we have said that we would be prepared to have a direct dialogue, as was the case during the Bush administration. But North Korea can't continue to make commitments and then violate them and expect to start from where they left off. The ball is in their court.

KING: We're going to take a quick break.

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