Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is experienced in negotiations with North Korea, says that North Korea’s detention of Americans Merrill Newman and Kenneth Bae signals a change.
According to Richardson, the two American hostages are being used as pawns in a game with the United States — but the stakes remain unclear. “The North Koreans are up to something. … Hopefully, they’ll make a move soon and we’ll get these two Americans out,” Richardson said.
Richardson, author of the new book, “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator,” said the detentions show Kim Jong Un “getting himself firmly in control — and I don’t think we should underestimate him. … He’s young, but he’s purged a lot of the old military leaders that were loyal to his father. He’s bringing his own people in, consolidating power.”
“… This new leadership, they’re not following the patterns that they had before like when I was negotiating,” the former governor said.
Richardson said he had helped get several hostages out of North Korea in the past. “But there was always a pattern. The pattern was there’s a confession, they apprehend them, but then they negotiate with high-profile people and they leave,” he said.
“In this case, there are two American detainees and the North Koreans, they’re acting very strange.”
“I went to North Korea in February with the head of Google, with Eric Schmidt, but the North Korean leader wouldn’t see us. He saw [basketball bad boy] Dennis Rodman.”