Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN, has been invited to visit North Korea by the nation's top nuclear negotiator. It could be a bid to avoid confrontation after weeks of tensions.
Kim Jong-il's visit to China comes as Jimmy Carter visits Pyongyang to seek the release of an imprisoned American.
Jimmy Carter gained a reputation as an independent actor when President Clinton sent him to North Korea in 1994. President Obama will hope Carter – on a mission to bring back a jailed American – does not stray into talks about North Korea's nuclear program.
Jimmy Carter was greeted Wednesday by North Korea’s nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, which analysts say is a signal North Korea wants the visit to be about much more than the release of US prisoner Aijalon Mahli Gomes.
UN undersecretary-general Lynn Pascoe said today that North Korea is 'not eager to return to six-party talks,' but others say Kim Jong-il appears ready for renewed dialogue.
US envoy Bosworth says North Korea talks in Pyongyang were 'useful.' But the North has not committed to returning to six-party talks on its nuclear program.