April 28, 2011 / 9:23 AM / 8 years ago

North Korean leader ready to restart talks on any issue: Carter

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson (L-R), known as The Elders, talk with North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun (3rd R) during a meeting at the Paekhwawon Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 26, 2011. REUTERS/Richard Lewis/The Elders/Handout

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is willing to hold talks without preconditions on “any” issue, former President Jimmy Carter said at the end of a trip to Pyongyang to try to defuse tensions on the divided peninsula.

“Chairman and General Secretary Kim Jong-il said he is willing and the people of North Korea are willing to negotiate with South Korea or with the United States or with the six powers on any subject any time and without any preconditions,” Carter told a press conference on Thursday.

Carter and three other former state leaders — known as The Elders — met the North’s leaders in Pyongyang during a “private” visit in which they were also due to discuss the impoverished North’s pleas for food aid.

He did not meet with Kim Jong-il in person, but received a note from him.

Reporting by Jeremy Laurence and Jack Kim; Editing by David Chance

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