New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's "private visit" to North Korea last week come with an unexpected diplomatic success: He secured a deal for the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors, according to CNN.
Richardson, known as a veteran negotiator, also got the reclusive communist state to agree to shipping fuel rods for enrichment of uranium outside the nation, and to create a military commission and hotline between the two Koreas and the United States.
Richard's five-day trip had been described by the State Department as a "private visit," according to The Atlantic Wire website. But The Washington Post had described it as an "unofficial diplomatic foray."
North Korea pulled out of a six-nation nuclear disarmament talks in April 2009, CNN reported. At that time, the nation ordered U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors out of the country.
Tensions between North and South Korea have ratcheted up after North Korean artillery attacks on a flashpoint border island in November
The agreement with North Korea came just before a South Korean live-fire artillery drill, ABC News reported, on Yeonpyong Island, site of the November attack. The drill had drawn threats of retaliation from the North.
In an unrelated matter, Richard also met with Maj. Gen. Pak Rim-Su, in charge of North Korean forces along the tense demilitarized zone, CNN reported. Pak told the New Mexico government that the remains of several hundred U.S. servicement killed during the Korean War. Pak offered to help secure the return of the remains.
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