North Koreans Are 'Toning Down,' Richardson Says

Just back from a trip to North Korea, New Mexico Governor and former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson tells NPR that despite some of their heated words, North Korea's leaders are "starting to move in the direction of toning down their actions."

Still, Richardson agrees with those who say the situation on the Korean peninsula now is as dangerous as it's been there in decades.

He adds, though, that when it's reported that North Korea, for example, has vowed to wage a "sacred war" on the South, you need to consider the source.

"The North Koreans have very heated rhetoric," he says, "[but] you've got to differentiate between their news agency ... that puts out these very heated, war-like comments almost all the time, and their officials. When you meet with them, they're much more pragmatic."

Here are two clips from his conversation with Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep. First, they talk about Richardson's sense that North Korea is pulling back from its earlier aggressive stance:

Bill Richardson on signs North Korea is toning down.

Then, Steve asks about the "sacred war" rhetoric:

Bill Richardson on North Korean rhetoric

Much more from their discussion is due on Friday's Morning Edition. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.



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