UPDATED: Governor To Make North Korea Trip

SANTA FE — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will visit North Korea next week at the invitation of the Pyongyang regime, the governor’s office said Wednesday.

Richardson will leave New Mexico on Tuesday and return Dec. 20, according to Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the governor.

The trip comes at a time of heightened tensions, two weeks after North Korea shelled a South Korean island.

“I am increasingly concerned with the recent actions by the North Koreans, which have raised tensions and are contributing to instability on the Korean Peninsula,” Richardson said in a statement.

The Democratic governor, who leaves office Dec. 31, was invited to visit North Korea by Kim Gye Gwan, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator, according to Gallegos.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Richardson will not carry any message from the U.S. government.

Richardson acknowledged that but said, “If I can contribute to the easing of tension on the peninsula, the trip will be well worth it.”

Accompanying Richardson will be his senior adviser on Asian affairs, K.A. “Tony” Namkung.

Richardson has traveled to North Korea seven times, most recently in 2007 to recover the remains of American servicemen killed in the Korean War. He also has met in New Mexico with North Korean diplomats three times since 2003, when he became governor.

He was U.N. ambassador in the Clinton administration and for years has served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter, including missions to Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 13:16

 

SANTA FE — A State Department spokesman says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is going to North Korea on a private visit.

The Governor’s Office has offered no immediate details on the trip, which comes at a time of heightened tensions two weeks after North Korea shelled a South Korean island.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday that Richardson will not carry any message from the United States government.

Richardson has traveled to North Korea several times, most recently in 2007 to recover the remains of American servicemen killed in the Korean War.

Richardson was ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration and for years has served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter, including missions to North Korea, Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.