Obama “extraordinarily relieved” at safe return of U.S. journalists from North Korea
American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee arrived in Burbank, California this morning with former U.S. President Bill Clinton who had made a 20 hour visit to Pyongyang yesterday to secure their release from North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. Awaiting them in California were former Vice President Al Gore, co-founder of the media company for ...
American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee arrived in Burbank, California this morning with former U.S. President Bill Clinton who had made a 20 hour visit to Pyongyang yesterday to secure their release from North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. Awaiting them in California were former Vice President Al Gore, co-founder of the media company for which they worked, and their families.
President Barack Obama spoke briefly this morning on the South Lawn about their safe return, expressing gratitude to Clinton, with whom he said he had spoken, and Gore for their help securing the women’s release, and extraordinary relief at the positive outcome of the mission. Notably, his remarks avoided any mention of North Korea or its leader, and he did not take any questions. From his statement:
Good morning, everybody. I want to just make a brief comment about the fact that the two young journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, are safely back with their families. We are obviously extraordinarily relieved. I had an opportunity to speak with the families yesterday once we knew that they were on the plane.
The reunion that we’ve all seen on television I think is a source of happiness not only for the families but for the entire country.
I want to thank President Bill Clinton — I had a chance to talk to him — for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists. I want to thank Vice President Al Gore who worked tirelessly in order to achieve a positive outcome.
I think that not only is this White House obviously extraordinarily happy, but all Americans should be grateful to both former President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their extraordinary work. And my hope is, is that the families that have been reunited can enjoy the next several days and weeks, understanding that because of the efforts of President Clinton and Gore, they are able to be with each other once again.
So we are very pleased with the outcome, and I’m hopeful that the families are going to be able to get some good time together in the next few days.
Thank you very much.
Clinton also issued a statement this morning: “I am very happy that after this long ordeal, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are now home and reunited with their loved ones. When their families, Vice President Gore and the White House asked that I undertake this humanitarian mission, I agreed. I share a deep sense of relief with Laura and Euna and their families that they are safely home.”
Clinton was accompanied to North Korea by “counsel” and longtime top aide Doug Band; Justin Cooper, another longtime aide who worked with Clinton on his autobiography, joins him on most trips, and is usually with him; his former White House chief of staff John Podesta; and David Straub, a retired U.S. diplomat, former head of the State Department’s Korea desk, and political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Seoul.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
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