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Jimmy Carter among leaders visiting N. Korea

By Mark McDonald

New York Times News Service

Published: Monday, April 25 2011 10:09 p.m. MDT

SEOUL, South Korea — Former President Jimmy Carter was to arrive in North Korea today for talks aimed at reducing tensions on the fractious Korean Peninsula.

The so-called six-party talks on the denuclearization of North Korea remain in limbo, and Carter said official dialogue with the North "appears to be at a standstill." The talks have involved North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan.

Carter and three former leaders from Europe arrived in Beijing on Sunday. Traveling with Carter were former President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway and former President Mary Robinson of Ireland. The four are members of The Elders, an independent group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

"Clearly there is a great level of mistrust between North and South Korea," Ahtisaari said. "But the stakes are too high to allow this standoff to continue."

The group was hoping to meet with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, although Carter said Monday that such a meeting had not yet been arranged. On Thursday, the Elders group is scheduled to travel to the South Korean capital, Seoul.

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