UPDATED: Gov. Richardson Tells CNN Release is a Win-Win

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Bill Richardson told CNN moments ago that the United States and North Korea both won with President Clinton’s successful negotiation of the release of two American journalists today.

“It improves the atmospherics between the two countries,” Richardson told CNN’s Suzanne Malveux. “The relationship is really bad now. There is enormous tension and literally no dialogue.”

The cable news network spent the first half-hour of its afternoon show “The Situation Room” speaking to the New Mexico governor, although the segment was interrupted twice because of technical difficulties.

Richardson also said he had spoken today with Lisa Ling, sister of one of the imprisoned journalists, and that she was “excited” about their impending release.

“I talked to Lisa Ling, who I’ve been working with for some time,” Richardson said. “She’s very excited – the fact that the girls have been pardoned, the fact that it looks like everything is moving toward a return back home. Lisa has suffered a lot.”

Richardson, a former United Nations ambassador, was an obvious choice and a good “get” for CNN on the breaking news subject. He is very familiar with the quirky North Korean negotiating style, and has won the release of American prisoners from the communist country himself. If Richardson was secretly a little jealous that Clinton conducted the high-profile mission, and not him, he didn’t let on during the interview.

Richardson stressed that Bill Clinton was a natural choice to conduct the mission because he has immense prestige as a former president of the United States. He said Kim Jong Il, who is reportedly ill, bolstered his own prestige at home by snagging a photo-op with the former U.S. president. 

“Obviosuly, he (Kim Jong Il) has gotten a great benefit,” Richardson said.

The governor also said Obama wins, although conservatives are already spinning the Clinton mission to mean that somehow Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed. Clinton herself said many times during the presidential campaign that if elected, she would make her husband a “roving ambassador.”

“It shows that President Obama has been skillful in dealing with North Korea,” Richardson said. “Sometimes you can’t engage in directly diplomacy between the governments. You use a third party envoy. It could be that the North Koreans said we will only take Bill Clinton.

Finally, Richardson said Hillary Clinton was involved and even call him for counsel. After the whole Richardson endorsement flap, I would have loved to listen in on that call.

“She called me to get advice, she called foreign diplomats, she talked the Swedes who are intermediaries,” Richardson said. “She was very active. I think this was a plus for everybody — for us, the North Koreans and for the idea of peace.”

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Gov. Bill Richardson will appear on the Situation Room with Suzanne Malveaux today between 2 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. MDT to discuss former President Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea. Clinton, according to Reuters, has negotiated the release of two American journalists captured by the North Korean military.

Richardson, who has negotiated with the North Koreans many times, will appear on CNN live via satellite from the KNME studio in Santa Fe. 

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