June 10, 2009
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

REVEREND JESSE JACKSON SAYS HE IS “WILLING TO GO” TO NORTH KOREA TO NEGOTIATE RELEASE OF TWO DETAINED U.S. JOURNALISTS ON NPR NEWS’ TELL ME MORE TODAY

JACKSON TELLS NPR: “I hope to meet with the families as soon as I possibly can.”

EXCERPTS BELOW; AUDIO AVAILABLE AT www.NPR.org

June 10, 2009; Washington, D.C. – In an interview today with NPR News’ Tell Me More with Michel Martin, the Reverend Jesse Jackson says that he is “willing to go” to Pyongyang, North Korea, to help negotiate the release of detained U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Jackson tells host Michel Martin: “Well, I’m willing to go. I will not go without some assurances. I will not go without touching base with our own government, that they might at least know that our mission is not at cross purposes with our national interests, which is the relief of the nuclear threat that’s rising in that country. …But I would really try to make an appeal to that government, as we’ve begun to reach out, and urge them on moral and humanitarian grounds – not on political grounds, not on a threatening basis, but on moral and humanitarian basis – to please let them go.”

The entire interview is airing today on Tell Me More, and is available online at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105193101 A complete transcript is available upon request; all excerpts must be credited to “NPR News’ Tell Me More.”

On possible pathways into negotiations with North Korea, Jackson says: “All I know is that now because I join others in their concern, as I reach out to people with whom we have some contact in North Korea, to appeal to them to please let them go. And I hope to meet with the families as soon as I possibly can, and see if we can work closely with others who may very well have some ability to have their voices heard in North Korea, who are not perceived as hostile. And if we can overcome the fear and the hostility, we could very well pave a road.”

Asked whether outreach to North Korea by former Vice President Al Gore would be beneficial, Jackson says: “It could, if he has the moral appeal to them and they can trust him, whether it’s former Vice President Al Gore, or Governor Bill Richardson or President Jimmy Carter. Those who made some way in reaching out could very well be a trusted broker between the two governments. But make the moral appeal. These two young women have done nothing to earn being in prison for 12 years. They are at this point a pawn in the bigger political game. The case I would make if I were to go to North Korea, to the leadership, is that: ‘to hold these young women as hostages are trophies, does not get what you need. You need to have your security increased. That is to say, the relief of such abounding poverty in your zone, and to have less military threats headed toward you.’ …That’s why I think any bellicose or rhetoric or threats does not serve our country well, nor does it serve our quest to secure their freedom.”

Tell Me More brings fresh voices and perspectives to public radio. The daily one-hour program hosted by Michel Martin captures the headlines, issues and pleasures relevant to multicultural life in America. It is a production of NPR News in association with the African American Public Radio Consortium, representing independent public radio stations that serve predominantly black communities. For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org