North Korea Offers to Return USS Pueblo
The North Korean government has offered to return the U.S.S. Pueblo, captured in 1968, in exchange for a visit from a high level American official.
Negotiations to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons remain in limbo, but the North Koreans are giving hints they might be ready to end another lingering problem with the United States by returning the captured spy ship USS Pueblo.
They are setting an unlikely condition, though, considering hostile U.S.-North Korean relations: a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or another top-level American official.
“It would be a gesture, but somebody needs to make a gesture,” said Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea who brought home the offer after a mid-August trip to North Korea. He told the State Department about his discussions. A department official said there are no plans for a high-level visit to North Korea.
The Pueblo ranks low in the hierarchy of irritants causing bad blood between the two countries. Paramount is the North’s admitted nuclear weapons and missile programs. The United States has also criticized North Korea’s human rights record, its maintenance of a million-strong army while its people live off donated food, and what it sees as North Korea’s support for terrorism.
Still, to those involved with the Pueblo Ã¢€” and to the U.S. Navy Ã¢€” the ship’s plight is far more than a footnote to the history of the Cold War. Sent defenseless on an intelligence-gathering mission off the North Korean coast, and given no help after North Korean torpedo boats mounted an attack, the Pueblo was captured Jan. 23, 1968. It was the first U.S. warship captured since 1807.
The DPRK has waited a little long in excercising this bargaining chip, methinks. Still, it would be nice to have it back.
via Bill the Florida Masochist