UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope Wednesday that North Korea's release of two American journalists will lead to a resumption of talks on eliminating its nuclear weapons program.
Ban told reporters he welcomed the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were detained at the Chinese-North Korean border in March and sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry into the North and engaging in "hostile acts."
"I appealed to DPRK leadership to show flexibility in handling the matter from a humanitarian standpoint," he said, using the initials of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "This is what I can tell you at this time. I told you I took necessary initiative which I'm not in a position to disclose at this time."
Ban also commended former US president Bill Clinton "for his successful humanitarian mission" to bring home the reporters, who work for former US vice president Al Gore's California-based Current TV media group.