SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il wants direct talks with South Korea's leader — an offer unlikely to be accepted until Pyongyang takes responsibility for violence that killed 50 South Koreans last year.
Carter didn't address the case of Jun Young Su, a Korean-American being held in North Korea, reportedly on charges of carrying out missionary activity. He had said earlier he would not raise the case, though the former president flew to North Korea last year to free another American jailed in Pyongyang.Carter started Thursday's news conference by offering condolences for those killed in last year's attacks, an apparent nod to criticism that he had glossed over the deaths in past dealings with the North.
But he also likely angered many in Seoul and Washington by criticizing their food aid policies.
Carter said that for the United States and South Korea "to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people because of political or military issues not related is really indeed a human rights violation."