Ex-US Secretary of State Albright recounts talk with late NK leader
By Kim Se-jeong
The late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died last December, acknowledged the importance of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, said former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
She has shared her experience of meeting the deceased leader on several occasions, most recently at a talk organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs early this month, according to diplomatic sources.
Secretary Albright and Kim discussed military affairs and ways of improving relations between the two states during a visit to Pyongyang in October 2000.
"Our intelligence was not exactly correct. They said he was crazy and a pervert. He was not crazy,” she said, recalling their talks. “I think he was very smart."
“(We) discussed the full range of concerns on missiles,” said Albright. “He was really quite open, in discussions that we had, in terms of limiting his missile program, and it was very evident what he wanted to do was to be involved in a negotiation,” she told Frontline, PBS.
North Korean rocket launches have been regarded as tests for long-range missiles. Most recently, Pyongyang attempted and failed to launch an Unha-3 rocket from a West Sea satellite launch site in April.
Regarding U.S. troops stationed here, Albright said, “Kim accepted the fact that the United States will continue to station its troops in Korea.”
Kim had been adamant about a need for the United States Forces in Korea’s (USFK) “full withdrawal” up until Albright’s.
Albright had worn heels and a brooch shaped like the American flag for their meeting. Recounting Kim’s appearance, Albright added, “His heels were the same height as mine and his hair was a lot poofier than mine.”
Albright was the highest ranking American official ever to meet with Kim Jong-il.
“North Korea is one of the most dangerous flashpoints,” said Albright. “The country seems very unstable at the moment, and there is concern it will perform nuclear tests.”
“It would be best if China takes the role of negotiator during the six-party talks,” she added.
The six-party talks are a series of discussions between South Korea, Russia, United States, Japan, North Korea and China to seek a peaceful resolution on the North Korean nuclear weapons program. They started on Aug. 27, 2003