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Bill Richardson: I Want to Take Dennis Rodman to NKorea to Free College Student

Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show"

By    |   Friday, 18 Mar 2016 06:45 PM

A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations wants to fly to North Korea with basketball great Dennis Rodman to convince its supreme leader Kim Jong Un to release an American student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for swiping a political banner.

Bill Richardson, a New Mexico Democrat who also served as governor of New Mexico and U.S. Secretary of Energy, told Newsmax TV the crime of subversion for which 21-year-old Otto Warmbier of Ohio was sentenced Wednesday was a typical North Korea overreaction to a stupid prank.

"This is a familiar pattern. The North Koreans apprehend Americans, then they deny them access to consular services, then they have forced confessions," Richardson said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show."

"That confession you heard of this young man [who pulled] a college prank, was a forced confession and they made them apologize. The next step is a sentence, hard labor, 15 years, totally outrageous, but then the good news may be that they're ready to negotiate.

"They can say their legal process is over and so what you want to do is establish the basis for a negotiation for his release on humanitarian grounds — but the North Koreans will always want something in return. This is a familiar pattern."

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Richardson spoke earlier this week with two North Korean diplomats at the New York Mission of the United Nations and urged them to release Warmbier. His next step is to fly to the East Asia republic and negotiate in person.

"This is the time when diplomacy and negotiation takes place. The problem is that we don't know much about [Kim]…. He's very unpredictable, he's unsure of himself, he's killing off a lot of his political opposition. So he's a hard liner," Richardson said.

"His father [Kim Jong Il] used to negotiate on these things, but it's uncertain what this man is going to do next. He's shooting missiles, he's shooting nuclear weapons."

He said he’s prepared to make that trip with the wild, tattooed Rodman, who has an odd friendship with Kim, whom he calls a "friend for life."

"I went to North Korea three years ago with Eric Schmidt [chairman of Google’s parent company.] We asked to meet with him, he wouldn't meet with us. Instead, shortly thereafter he met with Dennis Rodman … So maybe I should switch professions," Richardson said.

I would go [with Rodman]. I offered to go. I think the main negotiating channel has to be the State Department, our government, and they're doing that. They're working hard."

State Department spokesman Mark Toner has called the sentence "unduly harsh" and called for Warmbier’s release.

Before his trial, Warmbier, choking back tears, said he tried to take the banner from a hotel wall for a friend’s mother who wanted to display it in her church.

He later begged North Korean officials: "My brother and my sister need me. I beg that you see that I am only human, how I have made the worst mistake of my life."

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A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations wants to fly to North Korea with basketball great Dennis Rodman to convince its supreme leader Kim Jong Un to release an American student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for swiping a political banner.
bill richardson, dennis rodman, north korea, free, college, student
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2016-45-18
Friday, 18 Mar 2016 06:45 PM
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