Commentary: Journalists' safe return a diplomatic victory for North Korea, US

Don't be fooled by that photo of an unsmiling Bill Clinton sitting next to a dour Kim Jong Il.

Both men wore grim expressions for the cameras, but they must have been smiling inwardly because both got what they wanted from the former president's visit to North Korea.

Mr. Clinton won the release of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The former president delivered his charges Wednesday back to their much-relieved families minutes after touching down in California. The dramatic release ended an agonizing ordeal that began when the two journalists were seized near the China-North Korea border in March. In this case, it's safe to say mission accomplished.

North Korea's volatile president got what he wanted, too — a visit from a high-ranking U.S. emissary. In Mr. Kim's view, it bestows some much needed respect on a regime that has been branded an international scofflaw for its brazen violations of U.N. sanctions against building a nuclear arsenal.

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