Albright Defends Nkorea Trip, Says Clinton Visit Depends On Missiles
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday defended her historic trip to North Korea this month, saying her opposition to the totalitarian regime there was outweighed by national security interests.
But Albright said that a follow-up visit to Pyongyang by President Bill Clinton, much desired by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, depended on progress made in talks this week on limiting the Stalinist state's missile program.
"I made very clear that the glasses that I was wearing were not rose colored, that I fully understand it's a dictatorial regime," Albright told ABC television's "Good Morning America."
"But if it's possible ... to lessen the danger to the United States by talking to them about their getting their missiles under control, I think it is very well worth it," Albright said.
The top US diplomat has come under some criticism for not expressing forcefully enough Washington's opposition to Pyongyang's authoritarian government and was taken to task by The Washington Post last week for attending a mass demonstration of loyalty to the regime and applauding.
Albright, who spent two days in North Korea last week, described the performance by some 100,000 people as "amazing" without commenting on its militaristic and confrontational content that included a film clip of a long-range missile launch.
The "performance I attended with 100,000 people performing was, indeed, amazing because it showed the total control that the government has over its people," Albright said Monday.
She said a possible trip by Clinton would depend heavily on the outcome of talks to take place this week aimed at drawing specific details from Pyongyang on Kim's proposal to abandon his missile program in exchange for commercial satellite launches.
"We have to see what more can come out of the discussions that I had in North Korea about limiting their missiles which, obviously, are of great concern to us," she said.
"The president and I are talking about whether he should go," she said, adding that while the reclusive Kim was not the "peculiar person" some made him out to be, his intentions still had to be tested.
"He is somebody that I had quite a logical and pragmatic discussion with," Albright said. "But we have to test what his intentions are and I think it's worth doing" -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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