Editor's Note: Victor Cha was director of Asian affairs at the White House during the Bush administration. He visited Pyongyang with Governor Bill Richardson back in 2007. Cha spoke to Kiran Chetry on American Morning Tuesday.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/04/clinton.northkorea.gi.art.jpg" caption="Former US president Bill Clinton arrives at Pyongyang airport."]
Q&A with Victor Cha
CNN American Morning
Kiran Chetry: Drawing on your experience and extensive knowledge of North Korea, what might be going on in these negotiations with Korean leaders and our former President Bill Clinton?
Victor Cha: Well, I think for the North Koreans … receiving a former head of state gives them a lot of face, political face, which is important to the country and to their leadership. I would imagine that the former president is there solely for the purpose of trying to bring back these two Americans. And he’s probably engaging in discussions with the Foreign Ministry as well as with some members of the party, perhaps even the dear leader himself to secure the release of these Americans as a humanitarian gesture by the North Korean government.
Chetry: We’ve heard the rhetoric ratcheted up recently, the long-range missile firings, the censure of North Korea by the United Nations, nuclear talks, pulling out of the six-party talks. What does it say about North Korea’s influence on the world stage if they’re finally getting a former U.S. president to visit them, but it’s only after detaining two American journalists?
Cha: Well, I mean it doesn’t say a lot in terms of their reputation around the world, clearly. You know, but for them, former President Clinton is very credible for them because he as president considered very seriously going to North Korea in his last few days or weeks in office. So, for the North Koreans to receive him, I think they see that as a really big deal for them. And hopefully that will be enough to get them – get the two Americans released. But overall, in terms of their reputation around the world, it certainly doesn’t do them any good.
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