Original Version Published in APRIL 28th, 2011. Multiple high-level officials in North Korea reported on April 26, “Talks with Carter will continue to be difficult, as Kim Jong-il does not trust the former U.S. president.”
Media attention centered around the possibility of a Kim-Carter meeting, when the former U.S. president Jimmy Carter visited North Korea with three other former heads of state on April 26~28. In fact, North Korea was aware of Carter’s wish to meet Kim Jong-il, stated prior to the visit. Sources argue however, that Carter’s wishes will not be met and will continue to be deterred. The possible reasons are the following:
First, Kim Jong-il is suspicious of Carter in relation to Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994. Between August and September 1994, Kim Jong-il ordered an investigation of the possible ties between his father’s death and the meeting with Carter just a month before. Related health agencies evaluated that it was difficult to confirm the ties with the biochemical technology in North Korea. In 2009, when former U.S. president Bill Clinton visited North Korea, old suspicions sparked internal debate around the meeting.
Second, Kim Jong-il has distrusted Carter since the 1980s. Kim had disapproved of the meeting between Kim Il-sung and Carter on June 15th, 1994, although Kim Il-sung’s enthusiasm was undeterred. Kim Jong-il’s disapproval began with Carter’s unfulfilled presidential campaign pledge to “remove U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula.” Consequently Kim found him unreliable and frowned at the 1994 talks.
Third, Kim Jong-il’s current priorities are on North Korea-China relations, rather than North Korea-U.S. Arranging a secretive meeting with the former president of the United States would be an unwise move. China wishes to discuss all issues with the North, including North Korea’s talks with the U.S. More importantly, China wishes to direct the discussions toward its own interests. Kim is well aware of such expectations underlying Chinese support and is all too aware of China’s power to shake North Korea.
Lastly, Kim Jong-il calculates that Carter’s gift basket for the North will not be too appetizing, given the size of the basket.
The abovementioned reasons were already confirmed during Carter’s last visit to North Korea in August 2010. Instead of meeting the former U.S. president, Kim Jong-il left the country to meet Hu Jin Tao in China. At a time of increasingly emphasized North Korea-China relations, Kim’s departure in spite of Carter’s arrival testifies to the sources’ analysis.
Sources also predicted, “It will be increasingly difficult for Carter to meet not only Kim Jong-il but also Kim Jong-un, due to security measures.”
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