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    Bill Clinton meets with North Korean leader

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    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang on Tuesday, and conveyed a verbal message from President Barack Obama, the North's official media said.

    MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Tuesday during a surprise visit to Pyongyang, aimed at securing the release of two American journalists arrested in March.

    Clinton was shown on international TV stepping out of an unmarked plane, being greeted by officials on the runway, and receiving a bouquet from a young girl.

    North Korean official media said Clinton conveyed a verbal message from President Barack Obama to Kim, but the White House denied the report.

    Radio Pyongyang and the Korean Central Broadcasting Station said Clinton and Kim exchanged "a broad range of opinions" in their talks, according to South Korea's Yonhap agency.

    Although Clinton's visit is non-official, analysts say the talks may have important implications for the main disputes between North Korea and the United States, including over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

    U.S. reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced in June to 12 years' hard labor in North Korea for illegally corssing China's border in March while working on a story for San Francisco-based Current TV.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier said the arrests are being treated as a separate issue to the standoff over North Korea's May 25 nuclear test.

     

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